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Use This Winter to Become a Chinese Hotpot Master!

Jan.26, 2021

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"There is nothing in China that you can't handle by a meal of hotpot, if there is a problem you can't handle with one meal, then two meals."

If you have lived in anywhere of China for some time, then you will naturally know how important hotpot is to your life here, especially in terms of socializing.

You can't convince Chinese people that there is socialising going on without food. To invite people "go grab a drink/coffee", in the Chinese context it should be:

Yǒu kòng yìqǐ chī huǒguō a! 

Let's have hotpot together when you have time!

How much do Chinese people like hotpot? Check out the data:

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This is a graph of all the online food ordering in China of 2017 and 2018. From 2017-2018, hotpot overstepped fast food to become the No.1 ordered food online, occupying over 1/5 of all the bills.

As hotpot is so important for living in modern Chinese society, today I would like to take this chance to give you a briefing about all what you have to know about Chinese hotpot. Therefore, you can enjoy it more when you hang out with your local friends!

Hotpot is called 古董羹(gǔdǒnggēng) in ancient time. It's named after the sound made by food thrown into the boiling water. Like the English word "thud" in Chinese, is "gudong".

Thousands of years ago, People used giant cooking vessels to make hotpot and one meal can feed the whole village of people. Later on, with the setting up of etiquette, different hierarchies had different methods. Therefore, small pots emerged to satisfy the higher class.

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During the Three Kingdoms period (A.D.220—A.D.265), an emperor embedded five clapboards to divide the pot into five parts with five different flavours.

In Song Dynasty (1127—1279), "涮shuàn" was invented varying the ways of having hotpot. People sliced meat into pieces and boiled them instantly and then ate with sauce.

At that time, Chinese people from the royal family to common people were all very fond of instant-boiled meat. Qianlong Emperor (1711-1799) was a famous hotpot fan. He once popularized hotpot by holding a feast for 5 thousand people.

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In late Qing dynasty, boatmen along Yangtze River in Chongqing were keen on boiling meat with spicy soup, which was cheap but delicious and could also fend off the chill. Afterwards, it soon became the classical cuisine of boatmen. Developed over years, Chongqing people opened the first hotpot restaurant called "Bailetian" in 1921.

Since then, Chongqing Hotpot, Sichuan Hotpot and Chaoshan Hotpot represent the southern style. Instant boiled meat, Beef Hotpot and Lamb Hotpot represent the northern style. Both styles developed respectively divided by Yangtze River. Now Chinese hotpot has more than 30 kinds with different styles and flavours.

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As you can see from the map, people from different places have different taste preference. People in the north like lamb and beef more. Yunnan people prefer mushroom and fish while Sichuan and Chongqing people are addict to chilli oil, goose/duck intestines and cattle stomach. People from Jiangsu and Zhejiang fancy chicken or other variations with nutritious elements. Cantonese's favourite is seafood with hotpot.

And one more important thing!

The DIP! 蘸料zhànliào!

Different styles of hotpot have different corresponding dips. You canfully enjoy a certain style of hotpot only if you choose the right dip.

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80% Sesame sauce + 20% peanut sauce!

soy sauce, leek flower sauce, chopped scallion, coriander (optional)

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Sesame oil + mashed garlic!

Chopped scallion (optional), coriander (optional), chilli (optional), oyster sauce (optional), sesame (optional)

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Shacha sauce (Cantonese barbecue sauce)!

mashed garlic, sesame, chopped scallion

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Seafood soy sauce!

mashed garlic, chilli, scallion, coriander (optional)

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"Zhanshui" - Yunnan Style dip!

houttuynia, chilli, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice wine, vinegar

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With all this knowledge, now are you ready to start a hotpot tour in Shanghai?

Below I will list some representative hotpot restaurants of different styles for you to check out in Shanghai. 

四川火锅 Sichuan Hotpot

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涮肉火锅 Boiled Meat Hotpot

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广东火锅 Cantonese Hotpot

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【今日牛事/Jīnrì niúshì】


云南火锅 Yunnan Hotpot

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In China, although there are different types of hotpot in different districts, people always have the same purpose to have hotpot. That is,  just finding a reason to meet family and friends no matter how busy you are and where you are. We step into the restaurant from the cold outside, take off coats and sit close around a pot, enjoying the food and company without any disturbance. That's maybe the truth where the popularity of Chinese hotpot lies in.

(pics are from the Internet)

Free Trial Use This Winter to Become a Chinese Hotpot Master!
Use This Winter to Become a Chinese Hotpot Master!