20 Hot Pot – 火锅 (Huǒguō)

Sana Rajendran

simplified Chinese: 火锅; pinyin: Huǒguō


Hot pot, also known in Chinese as 火锅(Huǒguō), is a traditional Chinese dish consisting of spicy broth kept simmering on a hot plate. It is an extremely delicious and beloved dining experience not only in China, but also internationally. As those partaking in the meal begin to eat, they dip their food of choice (i.e. meat, seafood, and vegetables) into the broth. The food cooks as it sits in the hot broth. Hot pot is generally shared by an entire table, with everybody dipping into the same soup. There is a wide variety of options for people to dip into the spiced broth, the most popular of which is beef. However, lamb, fish, chicken, mushrooms, and even tofu can be found at many hot pot restaurants. The broth is made simply from water, spices, and salt. Some recipes call for broth made from meat itself, but most recipes tend to keep it simple.

There are a few schools of thought as to when hot pot first arrived in Chinese culture. Some say that hot pot originated in the northern region of China during the Tang dynasty (618-907) and was initially called “shuan yang rou” or “instant-boiled mutton.” However, other scholars argue that some Mongolian nomads would gather around a communal pot filled with boiling water and add thin slices of meat to cook. The cooked meat would then be dipped in a variety of sauces and eaten with bread. It is possible that both of these historical pathways could be true. At any rate, the dish evolved to become traditionally prepared using a cauldron filled with boiling water and seasonings, and thinly sliced lamb was cooked in the broth and then dipped in various sauces. The dish was also influenced by the regional cuisines of Sichuan and Chongqing, where spicy hot pot with Sichuan pepper became a specialty. The culture of hot pot has evolved and grown in complexity in many ways over time, with people using different ingredients, cooking methods, and seasonings to make the dish their own. In the 20th century, hot pot gained even more popularity and became a staple of Chinese cuisine. It has become a symbol of Chinese culinary culture and a beloved dish throughout the country and beyond. Today, hot pot is enjoyed by people of all ages and social classes and is often served in large groups for social gatherings and family reunions.


Koetse, M. (n.d.). What is hot pot? All About Hot Pot. Retrieved March 13, 2023, https://www.andrew.cmu.edu/user/sysun/#:~:text=It%20has%20a%20history%20of,eating%20at%20the%20same%20time.


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Hot Pot - 火锅 (Huǒguō) Copyright © 2023 by Sana Rajendran is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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