Chinese hot pot is a popular dish with many varieties

How Many Types of Chinese Hot Pot Are There? Plus Top Tips for a Delicious Hot Pot Experience

Chinese hot pot is a favorite cuisine of many, as it combines delicious flavors in one pot filled with various types of meat, fresh vegetables, spices, and flavorful broths. With many styles to choose from, hot pot is something you’ll never get tired of!

Today, we’ll explore the different types of Chinese hot pot and offer some tips to enhance your hot pot dining experience.

What is Chinese Hot Pot? Why Is It Timelessly Popular?

Chinese hot pot, or “huoguo” (火锅), is a simmering meal that has been popular for centuries in China. It involves a metal pot filled with boiling broth at the center of the table where people can cook meats, vegetables, tofu, noodles, and more. The word “huo” (火) in Chinese means fire, symbolizing fortune, prosperity, and abundance.

The popularity of Chinese hot pot is based on several key factors:

  • Taste and Variety: The broth comes in various flavors, allowing diners to choose their preferred ingredients.
  • Convenience: Ingredients are cut into bite-sized pieces, making them easy to cook and eat.
  • Social and Fun: Eating hot pot is a communal activity, ideal for social gatherings where people can talk and eat together, symbolizing unity.
  • Warmth: Perfect for cold weather, hot pot helps to warm up the body.
  • Nutritional Value: Hot pot includes a diverse range of vegetables and meats, offering a balanced diet.

How Many Types of Chinese Hot Pot Are There?

There are several types of Chinese hot pot, each with its unique characteristics!

1. Chengdu Hot Pot or Sichuan Hot Pot

Chengdu or Sichuan hot pot is known for its spicy and aromatic flavor, using Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, citrus peel, and other spices as the main seasoning agents. The broth is typically rich and red from the peppercorns, flavored intensely by simmering with pork bones.

Common ingredients include beef, pork, chicken, and various offals like stomach and liver, alongside fresh vegetables, different types of tofu, and noodles made from potato starch. The combination of these ingredients with the spicy Chengdu broth results in a robust, spicy flavor that is distinctly Chinese.

2. Chongqing Hot Pot

Chongqing hot pot is similar to Chengdu hot pot but has a higher spiciness level, using an even greater quantity of Sichuan peppercorns. Additional strong spices like crushed chili peppers and garlic are also included in the broth. The ingredients used are similar to those in Chengdu hot pot, including beef, pork, chicken, offals, a variety of fresh vegetables, tofu, and noodles.

3. Hulunbeier Hot Pot

Hulunbeier hot pot broth is mild and smooth, made from pork or chicken bones, seasoned with light soy sauce, salt, and a touch of pepper. This type of broth isn’t too overpowering, making it suitable for those who prefer gentler tastes.

Popular ingredients include a variety of seafood such as shrimp, clams, crab, and fish, as well as other meats like pork and chicken, complemented by fresh vegetables, making Hulunbeier hot pot both diverse and nutritionally complete.

4. Guangdong Hot Pot

Guangdong hot pot uses a broth similar to Hulunbeier hot pot, typically made from pork or chicken bones and flavored with salt and light soy sauce. However, it differs in that the ingredients primarily focus on seafood and meats, with less emphasis on vegetables.

5. Teochew Hot Pot

Originating from the city of Chaozhou in southern China, Teochew hot pot is distinguished by its use of readily available and easy-to-eat ingredients such as ground pork, fish, shrimp, offals like liver and stomach, and a variety of fresh vegetables, all cut into small, easy-to-eat pieces. The broth is savory and is enhanced by boiling a flavorful mixture of ingredients, creating a delightful taste that’s both convenient and enjoyable to eat.

6. Guilin Hot Pot

Guilin hot pot is unique among Chinese hot pots for its distinctive flavor, primarily because it uses a tomato-based broth that provides a sweet and tangy taste. The broth is prepared by simmering fresh and dried tomatoes, dried chilies, and other spices, seasoned with fish sauce and various herbs. Ingredients typically include beef, pork, chicken, offals, a wide range of fresh vegetables, tofu, and noodles, all of which blend harmoniously into the sweet and sour broth, enriched by the savory flavors of the added meats.

5 Tips for Enjoying Delicious Hot Pot

Now that you know about the types of Chinese hot pot, you’ll be interested to find out about the other factors that can enhance your hot pot experience:

  • Choose a Flavorful Broth: The broth is like the heart of a hot pot. Popular choices include richly flavored pork or chicken bone broths, but to add more depth, you can also add other seasonings like salt, light soy sauce, black pepper, coriander roots, garlic, and ginger to enhance the aroma and taste.
  • Include a Variety of Ingredients: A delicious and nutritious hot pot should include a variety of ingredients, from quality meats to fresh vegetables, mushrooms, and even seafood like shrimp, fish, squid, and crab to boost the flavor and nutritional value.
  • Prepare Tasty Dipping Sauces: You can prepare a variety of dipping sauces to suit your taste, such as sweet and sour sauce, chili salt sauce, and garlic chili sauce. A key tip for enhancing the flavor of your dipping sauces is to add fresh ingredients like fresh chilies, lime juice, green onions, and cilantro, which will make the sauces even more aromatic and spicy.
  • Cook Ingredients Properly: Meat should be added to the pot first to ensure it cooks evenly. Tender cuts like sirloin or beef should be cooked just until done to maintain tenderness. Vegetables can be added near the end of the cooking time. For mushrooms, tofu, and noodles, it’s important to make sure they are thoroughly cooked.
  • Enjoy With Delicious Side Dishes: Recommended side dishes that pair wonderfully with hot pot include hot steamed rice, chewy thin noodles, fluffy steamed dumplings, or even aromatic fried noodles, all of which make the hot pot meal even more satisfying.
Chinese hot pot, a long-standing favorite in China

For those whose appetites are stirred by reading this and wish to try Chinese hot pot without traveling far, visit Mongkok at Chidlom. This restaurant offers a full range of Chinese-style sukiyaki hot pots and Mala hot pot (Malatang) in Chidlom, with over 200 menu items, from savory to sweet, perfect for dining solo or with friends. It is conveniently located at The Mercury Ville @Chidlom, right next to the BTS Chidlom station.