Where does hot pot come from?
It is a great time to gather with friends, family or co-workers for a festive and heartwarming gathering. Is this soupy, richly flavoured cauldron with fresh ingredients that we call steamboat or hot pot good for you? Answer: Yes, hot pot is healthy, as long as you select your ingredients and base soup carefully.
Hot pot meals are high in sodium. Hot pot ingredients such as meatballs and fish balls are high in sodium. This is according to 富途 specialists at the Department of Endocrinology of Singapore General Hospital, a part of SingHealth.
You can easily eat a dozen fishballs, meatballs and cuttlefish in a single sitting. Five fishballs and five cuttlefishballs will consume more than half of your daily sodium allowance (2,000mg), and 300mg cholesterol. This does not even include the sodium from the broth. There are many different soups, including the Chongqing spicy soup (ma la), Thai tom-yam, Sichuan spicy and hot soup, Chinese herbal Pork Belly soup and Kombu Dashi (for Japanese Nabe).
Additions of liver, kidneys, tripe, and other organ meats, such as pork or beef, enhance the flavour of this base soup. These are all high in saturated fats.
Chinese hotpot is an enjoyable and delicious communal meal that originated in Eastern China. It involves placing a large bowl of soup in the middle of a dining table and heating it up with induction or fire. The table is also adorned with ingredients ranging from thinly-sliced meats to raw vegetables.
It’s not very common in Western countries, even though it’s a dish you can find in China. It’s a shame, because it is far better than fondue. It’s so good that we’ve even learned how to cook a hot pot (details are below). We also use some of the tools and base soups that I’ll recommend. Amazon Associates earns from my qualifying purchases.
Hot pot’s history is the key to understanding what it is. Hot pot may have been invented in Mongolia 800 years ago. The broth originally did not contain any spices and was made primarily of meat, including mutton or horse. The hot pot spread to other parts of China where regional variants developed, and still exist today. You can decide which hot pot type you want to cook at home by understanding the different types.
Chongqing Hot Pot is perhaps the most popular variation, with its spicy Sichuan Peppers liberally added to the broth. Some people may find it too hot, especially if they are not aware of the heat. They are my favorite.
While living in Hong Kong I saw a television show explaining why Chongqing was the birthplace of spicy hotpot. Chongqing, formerly known as Chungking to the West, is one of China’s biggest cities. It lies in Sichuan Province at the confluence a number of large rivers. Chongqing has been an important center for trade and commerce throughout China.
Dock workers were often underpaid and needed a warm, cheap meal to help them stay working in the cold. The hot pot broth was made extremely spicy to mask the poor quality, or even nearly-spoiled ingredients that these manual subsistence workers used. So the story goes.