How to Order and Eat Hotpot
Beginner's guide to hot pot
Hotpot is one of the most classic and traditional meals in China. As the name suggests, it is extremely spicy, and someone who's not used to its delights might not be able to enjoy the meal the first time around.
1. The concept of hotpot
It's quite simple. There's a metal bowl in the middle of the dining table with broth simmering in it, and you can cook the ingredients you like and enjoy. It's not about being able to cook the ingredients yourself and eat; it's the fact that you can do this while socialising. Some of the ingredients you can order are mushrooms, shrimp, thinly sliced meat and Chinese lettuce.
2. Where was it originated?
Wherever you are in China, the hot pot you get to enjoy is more or less the same, but there are small differences based on the region.
Hotpot was originated in the Mongolian Empire thousands of years ago. It was a simple broth made with horse meat and mutton. As the Mongolian soldiers staked their claim throughout East Asia, hotpot also became a popular dish. China, Vietnam, Japan and Korea took a great liking to hotpot.
3. Finding a good hot pot place
Hotpot has become a regular tourist meal. Those who've tried its delights keep going back to it, and others want to give it a try while in China. Finding a good place that serves hotpot isn't difficult. If you are staying at a Shenyang service apartment – a place like Somerset Heping Shenyang for example – it's even easier as you'll find numerous eateries located within the vicinity.
4. What to order
If you are a tourist trying hotpot for the first time, deciding what to order can be pretty confusing to you. There's a long list of things you can order, but to sample the best hotpot flavour, there are very specific ingredients you need to order.
As for meat, beef and lamb are your best bet; you can also add shrimp, crab and mushrooms. Potatoes are also a great addition as they will suck in flavours of all the other ingredients. Cabbage, lettuce, pumpkin and bean sprouts are the vegetable ingredients you should order. You can throw in some noodles too.
For a great hotpot experience, choose the right sauce. One traditional sauce you can try is sesame sauce mixed with chives. You can choose a traditional sauce or make your own sauce by adding chilli peppers, minced, cilantro, minced garlic and scallion. If the broth is spicy, don't order an equally spicy sauce, you should balance it out.
6. Ingredients to be put in first
Corn, pumpkin, potatoes, radish and daikon need to be cooked first as they take longer to be cooked. Ingredients like spinach, cabbage and lettuce need to go in last.
7. How to eat hotpot
There isn't a specific way of eating hotpot; you can savour it as you please. If you like, you can put all the ingredients in the broth in one go or add them gradually as you make your way through. Also, you need to be careful as to not splash the broth on yourself or people around you.
8. Finishing up
Eating a hotpot meal is about socialising as well as eating; the meal will go on for about two hours. Once you've finished eating all the meat and vegetables you want, drink some of the broth too; with all the vegetable and meat flavours simmered in, the broth is going to taste divine. You should finish the hotpot meal with something like yoghurt or fermented milk.