For most of us, the arrival of winter means bundling up with multiple layers. But colder temperatures also mean it’s the perfect time for hot pot!
Of course, hot pot includes a pot of simmering broth at the centre of the table, used for cooking various ingredients — such as meats, vegetables, and noodles — which are then dipped into mixed sauces.
What started in China has since become a popular meal worldwide, enjoyed by those from Asian to Western countries. However, how well do you know the rich history of hot pot?
Looking into hot pot’s past
In the Chinese language, hot pot is huǒguō (火锅), literally translating to ‘fire pot’.
The tradition originated from China, dating back to more than 1,000 years ago. It was said to have started in Mongolia — when Mongol warriors and horsemen camped outside would gather around a pot on the fire to eat together, while keeping warm.
Hot pot eventually spread throughout different regions of China, giving birth to variations with a variety of ingredients and broths.
Regardless, the experience remains unchanged. That is, hot pot is a meal to be shared and enjoyed with other people, as you sit around the boiling stew.
Even in China, hot pot may be different in certain areas of the country, with many styles that can be tried here in North America.
Different types of hot pot
1. Sichuan hot pot
Originating from the Sichuan province in southwest China, there are two main varieties — from Chengdu province and Chongqing province.
Sichuan hot pot is known for its mouth-numbing and spicy flavour, also known as mala (麻辣), with its main ingredient being Sichuan peppercorn.
2. Beijing hot pot
Also known as Mongolian hot pot, Beijing hot pot uses mutton as its key ingredient. It is often cooked in a volcano-shaped copper pot, and uses a coal-burning stove.
While Sichuan hot pot is characterized by its flavourful and spicy broth, Beijing hot pot has a distinctly milder and fragrant taste.
The broth is often made of sheep-bone stock, with shallots, ginger, mushrooms, Chinese dates, wolfberries, longans, and dried seafood.
3. Chaoshan hot pot
Chaoshan is part of the Eastern coast of Guangdong province, and this hot pot style only became popular in the beginning of the 20th century.
Chaoshan hot pot uses beef as its main ingredient, with its broth based on beef bone soup or water, creating a light broth that brings out the taste of the ingredients.
4. Guangdong hot pot
Guangdong hot pot comes from the southern Chinese province, which is home to Cantonese cuisine. Its main ingredients are seafood, such as fish balls, fish, shrimp, and squid.
Like Beijing hot pot, the broth is milder in taste, and uses light seasoning or water for the base of the broth to focus on the freshness of the ingredients.
Make hot pot at home
Despite all the different types of hot pot available, making and eating it at home is very simple.
The three components needed are: broth, ingredients, and sauces. And at Sungiven Foods, we have all the essential ingredients and more to provide a healthier hot pot experience.
Although there are many variations of broth, there isn’t one better than the other — it’s simply a matter of preference. Some people prefer more clean-tasting broth — which are meat or mushroom based — while others prefer a thicker broth, or perhaps a spicy one.
There are many Chinese hot pot recipes online for those looking to make their broth from scratch. Alternatively, pre-made soup base is also an option. With hot pot being such a global culinary delicacy, these soup bases are available at many stores, including Sungiven Foods.
For instance, our nine different locations have a variety of flavour, including: Sungiven House Special Beef Tallow Hot Pot Paste, Sungiven Tomato Soup Hot Pot Paste, Sungiven Vegetable Oil Hot Pot Paste, and Sungiven Mala Red Chili Hot Pot Paste.
It is all made in Canada with natural ingredients, and are perfect for both spicy and non-spicy soup lovers.
Make sure to include different ingredients for a variety of flavours, textures, and nutrients. The common ingredients found in hot pot are meat, vegetables, and seafood.
Thinly-sliced meat such as pork, beef, and lamb are widely used, as it cooks fast. These meats are best cooked by “swishing” it in the broth with chopsticks or using a small strainer ladle to prevent overcooked meat.
When buying meat for hot pot, take a look at the fat and marbling. Fatty beefs, especially, are a must-have for any hot pot feast. Sungiven’s Premium Wagyu Beef has a balance of lean and fat meat, and is rich in flavour with beautiful marbling.
With healthy meals being our priority, this product is raised without antibiotics or growth hormones – ensuring that it’s natural and farm fresh. Check out the selection: USA Deluxe Wagyu Beef Sliced, USA Premium Wagyu Beef Sliced Rolls, USA Prime Wagyu Beef Sliced Rolls, USA Wagyu Beef Sliced Rolls, and Wagyu Beef Ball.
Choosing the right cut of meat also ensures the best taste. Leaner cuts may work, but must not be left in the broth for too long. As for lamb, opt for the leg or shoulder, such as Sungiven’s New Zealand Lamb Shoulder Rolls. Finally, the best pork options are pork belly, shoulder, or loin.
There are so many kinds of seafood to include in hot pot, such as shrimp, fresh fish, and fish balls.
Fish balls are a popular choice, and often come in a variety of shapes and fillings — and can be made with fish, shrimp, or cuttlefish. The most popular ones used in Chinese hot pot are round fish balls. Find them in our frozen section, as it is already cooked and take less than a minute to prepare in the broth.
For some chewy goodness, explore Sungiven’s sustainably sourced seafood products: Steamboat 5 in 1, Fish Roe Lucky Bag, Squid Prawn Paste, Fish Tofu, or Cuttlefish Ball.
To top it off, add an extra dose of nutrients and flavour to the broth by using vegetables. For example, leafy greens — such as napa cabbage, spinach, and chrysanthemum greens — take two to three minutes to cook once it goes into the broth.
You can also add root vegetables, such as taro, lotus root, or daikon. These take longer to cook, so be sure to add them in at the start. Additionally, mushrooms, corn, and tofu are great choices.
Ultimately, there are an endless amount of vegetables that can be included beyond the ones mentioned. To ensure you are getting fresh vegetables, Sungiven Foods offers more than 100 varieties of naturally grown, fresh vegetables sourced from top quality farms.
With this hot pot guide on hand, stay warm this season enjoying sizzling hot pot with Sungiven’s very own products! Sungiven Foods is always committed to providing ingredients to help our community lead a healthy lifestyle.
Here’s a tip!
Head to the dedicated hot pot section at our Sungiven stores to find all your hot pot essentials in one place! Visit your nearest Sungiven Foods store today and start planning that hot pot party with friends and family!