We often refere to THE chinese hotpot, but in fact, many types exist in China. Most of them evolved from the traditional one prepared in Chongqing when the dish started to spread throughout China during Ming and Qing dynasties. I present here 5 different ones which are considered as the greatest hot pots in China.
The Chongqing spicy hotpot 重庆麻辣火锅
Maybe the most famous in China. We can at least say that the city of Chongqing is today accepted as the cradle of the chinese hotpot. Originally, this dish was a hot soup with offal eaten by sailors working on the rivers of the province. Nowadays, Chongqing hotpot is different from its original version and maybe one of the richest in terms of spices since almost 10 different types are used to be thrown into the soup.
The main ingredients to make the soup are butter, Sichuan pepper et hot pepper. We easily imagine than this version might be very very spicy. We typically add offals, fish, potatoes, mushrooms and tofu into the soup.
As suggested by its name, this type of hotpot is commonly found in the capital but more largely spreads in the Northern part of China. One characteristics stand in the shape of the pot. It is a kind of ring surrounding a chimney dedicated to evacuate steam and particles produced by the fire in the middle. The base is quite simple since we only need to boil water and add oignons, goji berries. Meat, mushrooms, tofu, noodles, dumplings or chinese cabbage are very common in this fondue.
The cantonese hotpot 打边炉
Our third version comes from the South of China in the area of Canton. It mainly uses seafood and fish very common in cantonese gastronomy. The base can be preparted with a soup of chicken or sea turtle, red date, goji berries, squid, fish, or oysters,…
The individual hotpot of Shandong 山东肥肉小火锅
One difference with the 4 other hotpots presented here, in the Shangdong hotpot, is the fact that each gest has his own small pot and can add whatever he wants to eat. Shandong province is located in the Northern part of China just below Beijing, the capital. In this province, the city of Qingdao remains well-know for its beer of the same name. We use here a soup of pork with cooking wine to prepare the base of the fondue. Then, we add mushrooms, hot pepper, soja sauce, oignons and so on.. We can then cook beef, noodles and a lot of green vegetables typical of the North.
The chrysanthemum flowers hotpot 浙江菊花暖锅
Maybe one of the strangest one we can find in China. In opposition with the majority of other hotpots, whose taste are very strong, this type offers soft and tender flavours, typical from Shanghai and Zhejiang food. Chysanthemum petals are directly soaked into hot water to which we can add sesame sauce and a slice of hot pepper. Meet, fish, chinese cabbage, tofu, mushrooms and lotus roots can then swirl in the boiling soup.
Of course, these flavours are typical from China. Especially, the level of spice reached in Chongqing hotpot is barely bearable for a foreigner. Then, it could be wise to try other types of hotpot, expect if you like challenge ! Other versions of chinese hotpot are proposed in this post. Even commonly consumed in the country, they are not included in the 5 greatest ones and you would have much more chance to eat one of them in China.