Hot pot is a popular, trendy menu item in Chinese restaurants across the U.S. right now, but did you know this dish’s history goes back over 1,000 years? Chinese Hot Pot is a stew served in a metal pot simmering at the center of a table. All raw ingredients are placed beside the metal pot, so you can add and cook whatever you like in the broth. Hot pot first became popular during the Tang Dynasty (628-907 AD). In the following dynasties, the culinary style was evolved by imperial chefs over many centuries into what it has become today. There are several types of Chinese Hot Pot, but the main ones are:
- Mongolian-style: Considered the hot pot of the royal family, Mongolian-style was the first known version of hot pot. The main ingredient in Mongolian-style hot pot is mutton, which is cut into thin slices. The broth contains ingredients like sesame butter, soy sauce, chili oil, chives, rice wine, shrimp sauce, vinegar, and Chinese parsley. This is considered the “royal hot pot” because the ingredients were generally too expensive for common folk to enjoy.
- Sichuan-style: This type of hot pot has always been widely enjoyed by the common folk of China’s Sichuan province, and today is the most well-known kind of hot pot. It’s characterized by being very spicy – a typical trait of Sichuan-style cuisine. The broth is flavored with chili peppers and other strong spices and herbs. The main ingredients are hot pepper, Chinese crystal sugar, and wine. Protein like chicken, beef, or fish can be added depending on availability and your own preference.
- Cantonese-style: Canton was once a Southern, coastal province of China (it is now known as Guangdong). The cuisine found there was generally on the sweet side, and Cantonese cuisine remains one of the most popular types of Chinese food found in restaurants. Cantonese-style hot pot is usually sweeter than Mongolian or Sichuan style hot pots. It features a sweet white broth and includes seafood ingredients like shrimp, scallops, and crabmeat.
At Szechuan House, it goes without saying that our specialty is the Sichuan-style hot pot! On our menu, we allow you to build your own “Szechuan Hot Pot”. First, choose your type of broth: spicy, non-spicy, or half-and-half (the metal pot is divided in half, spicy broth on one side, non-spicy on the other, kept separate). Then you choose your protein. Popular options for our customers include lamb, beef, or chicken. You can also choose a combination hot pot to get a mix of different meats. If you’re feeling daring, we even have spicy rabbit meat to try! All hot pots also include vegetables, tofu, and noodles.
Besides the delicious flavors and fun method of cooking, did you know hot pot is also good for you? Now there’s no reason not to give it a try! See what the fuss is all about and bring your family or friends to Szechuan House and experience the exceptional Hot Pot dish for yourself!