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Typical northern-styled Hot Pot (Beijing Hot Pot), focusing on the brass pot, clear water, and fresh instant-boiled mutton.
Hotpot is a broad concept in China, there is a wide variety of hot pot, such as the Chongqing Hot Pot in which the ingredients are made to be “hot, spicy, burning”, and it’s considered as the hot pot from Southern China. On the other hand, the hot pot from Northern China is more focused on “instant-boiled mutton”. It’s also known as a new style of hot pot.
Northern-style Hot Pot
In the Northern-style Hot Pot, instant-boiled meat is the main ingredient, be it beef or mutton. The fun lies in the process of indulging yourself in eating the meat. What we are most familiar with is the “Traditional Beijing Shabu Shabu”, in which we usually use a brass pot to boil the mutton. This is the old and authentic Beijing way to have hot pot. However, such kind of hot pot is strict on the ingredients and materials used. That is, you must use a brass pot, fresh water, and instant-boiled fresh mutton to do the job.
Southern-styled Hot Pot
The variety of Southern-styled Hot Pot is more abundant, it mainly consists of the styles from Sichuan, Guangdong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang Provinces.
Sichuan-styled Hot Pot
When we speak of the Sichuan Hot Pot, I believe that the first thing coming to your mind would be “numb, spicy, fresh and nice smell.” Sichuan-styled Hot Pot is divided into four types: Sichuan Hot Pot, Chongqing Hot Pot, Fish Head Hot Pot, and Kabob Hot Pot. These four types are all about spicy and fresh and are the mainstream among all kinds of hotpots in China. According to statistics, more than 60% in hot pot restaurants in China are selling Sichuan-styled Hot Pot. Its two mainstreams are Chengdu Hot Pot and Chongqing Hot Pot. We often describe one of them as “soft, gentle but fierce” and another as “arrogant and aggressive”, they both have their own charms and are heartily welcomed by diners.
Canton-style Hot Pot
In a Guangdong-styled Hot Pot, you can find the usual eating habits of most people in Guangdong Province – they pay close attention to the soup and the freshness of food ingredients. Examples can be seen in Seafood Hot Pot, Chaoxian Beef Hot Pot, Porridge Hot Pot and “Macau Dollar”. Chaoxian Beef Hot Pot is the most welcomed among all the above types and can thus be representing Guangdong-styled Hot Pot. Chaoxian foodies make use of the soup boiled from beef bones as the base and make instant-boiled beef (all parts included), Shacha dip sauce and Puning miso as ingredients and flavorings. They do put a lot of heart in what they eat!
Yungui-style Hot Pot
The Yungui-styled Hot Pot is quite unique, and you can see a lot of local specialties in it, whether it’s about the taste or the chosen ingredients. In other areas, it’s quite challenging to look for an authentic Yungui-styled Hot Pot. Examples are Yunnan Mushroom Hot Pot, Cured Pork Hot Pot, and Black Goat Hot Pot. Local specialties are the highlight, and it’s got an intriguing, one-of-a-kind flavor. The Guizhou Hot Pot is sourer, such as the Sour Soup Hot Pot, which is representing hotpot locally.
Jiangzhe-styled Hot Pot (including Jiangsu and Zhejiang Provinces)
The Jiangzhe-styled Hot Pot is as gentle as the women from Jiangnan. Its main representing types are Flower Hot Pot, Yiping Pot, Local Chicken Hot Pot, Assorted Hot Pot, Eight Hot Pot, and Three Delicacies Hot Pot. What is the most impressive is the Chrysanthemum Warm Pot from Suzhou and Hangzhou, the base is chicken or meat soup and is enjoyed with boiled meat, fish, chicken slices together with Chrysanthemum. Such a unique style of hotpot awakens your senses and makes you feel refreshed.
The other types of Southern-style Hot Pot
What makes the Southern-styled Hot Pot special are its representing types – Xiangxi Hot Pot, Hubei Wild Fowl Hot Pot, Hainan Coconut Chicken Hot Pot, etc. The Hainan Coconut Chicken Hot Pot is quite extraordinary, as high-quality coconut from Hainan Province is used as the soup base, no artificial flavorings are used. Ladies adore it, once they open the lid, they often serve themselves a bowl of coconut soup to refresh themselves.
“清水一盏, 葱姜二三 A bowl of fresh water, a handful of green onions and ginger”
Romanesco broccoli （Looks like Buddha’s hair）
Cole flower leaves
Lamb high ribs (chucks)
Lamb spinal cords(white strips)
Chives’ flower sauce
Fermented bean curd
Red Chili oil
Li Ziqi mentioned in her Weibo comments about her video, in which she had prepared the “Mutton Slices Cooked in Brass Hot Pot”.
“The period of shooting this video is longer than the one I made for the Silk Quilt. From ‘First Snow’ to ‘Winter Solstice’, it took a bit more than two months. I make the ‘Leaves with fermented bean curd’ every year, and it’s the highlight of the ingredients of mutton slices cooked in a brass Hot Pot. This year, I’ve decided to shoot a video about it.”
“This year’s ‘Winter Solstice’ seems to be colder than that of last year. There has always been a severely cold wind outside the house. Therefore, I decided to make use of my brass pot to prepare a pot of steaming hot mutton slices. All you need to do is to prepare some boiled water and pour over some green onions and ginger. If you’d like, you might add a few red dates and wolfberry fruits as well.”
“If you’re thinking that preparing a hotpot is that easy – you’re right. And if you still have no clues of how to prepare one, I’m also willing to cook for you myself!”
“What’s the most important in mutton slices cooked in a Brass Hot Pot is the fine-quality fresh mutton and flavorings. I’m sure foodies understand it better than I do when it comes to fine-quality fresh mutton. I do know a bit better about flavorings – you must use fermented bean curd and sesame paste, they’re like the soul of the whole masterpiece. Of course, the other flavorings are just as important – the chives’ flower sauce, soy sauce, red chili oil, and sesame oil. If you want it to be even spicier, you can choose to add some fresh chilies.”
“I would like to write about the preparation method of ‘Leaves with fermented bean curd’, a famous dish from my hometown.”
“I have made a video about the preparation method of tofu, that’s why I will simplify the procedure this time. Last time, we didn’t soak the fresh beans in water. And the half-dried beans I am going to use this time have been soaked for a whole day before they’re ground. The steps are pulp grinding, filtering, and boiling. During the process, we may use a few leaves of cabbage to remove the foams of soy milk. When the fire is stopped, pour the brine slowly and fix the newly formed toufu pudding on the shelf firmly. It takes a whole day to make it into firm toufu. We have to use firm toufu in any case, as soft toufu would not be able to do the job. After cutting the firm toufu into pieces, place them onto clean rice hay and leave it to be fermented for 10 to 15 days. White hair will grow on the toufu (discard any toufu with black dots as it means that it’s rotten).
As you can see, the procedure can be complicated. You can also buy ready-made hairy toufu to skip this process.
“Soak the fermented hairy toufu with some strong liquor – about 50 to 55% vol, and it can kill the bacteria in the toufu, add fragrance to it and extend its storage time.”
“Pour some ready-mixed seasoning powder onto the toufu – red chili powder, tangerine-peel powder, star aniseed powder, pepper, and paprika. Then, take a large vat and spread the stir-fried soybeans on the bottom of it to absorb moisture, wrap the toufu with the cabbage leaves that have been dried for a week, then put it into the vat. After sprinkling some liquor on it, wait for a month before it’s served.”
“When you’re in a severe winter, put a fresh slice of mutton into a pot of boiled water with green onions and ginger until it changes color, then, dip it with your carefully-made flavorings. Indulge yourself with it, and you cannot care less of the cold wind outside.”