Listen to China: Chinese hot pot chain Haidilao to open London restaurant
CGTN's She Jingwei, Zhu Mei

Listen to China: Chinese hot pot chain Haidilao to open London restaurant


Chinese hot pot feasts in winter

The most enjoyable pastime on a cold winter day is having friends and relatives sitting around eating a steaming hot pot. 
China's hot pot has a history of more than 1,000 years. There are five major hot pot categories, namely Sichuan spicy style, Northern style, Jiangsu and Zhejiang style, Yunnan style and Guangdong style, which are based on geographic location. Let's see how the five kinds of hot pot cater to different appetites.
It's always joyful to have families around the hot pot in winter. /VCG Photo

It's always joyful to have families around the hot pot in winter. /VCG Photo

1. Sichuan spicy

Sichuan spicy hot pot, probably the most well-known style in China, is famous for its numbing and spicy flavor. Its typical broth is made from Sichuan pepper, chili, chili oil and other spicy ingredients.
Don't forget to make yourself a "tailor-made" dipping sauce as there are so many different ingredients that you can choose from: sesame sauce, chili oil, garlic, scallion, Sichuan pepper, seafood sauce, and vinegar, among others. Typical Sichuan hot pot dipping sauces are sesame oil sauce and chili sauce.
You're highly recommended to order some "perfect partners" of Sichuan hot pot – duck intestine, ox stomach, blood tofu. But of course, you can dip almost any food in the pot. When you cook the ox stomach, simply dip it in and out of the boiling soup eight times and it should be nicely cooked.
Remember to drink more water as you eat Sichuan spicy hotpot, or you might have a sore throat the next day after having too much spicy food.

2. The northern

Different from Sichuan style, northern-style hot pot uses a white-colored soup base, with medlars, mushrooms, dates and green Chinese onions in it. Instead of being spicy, the soup is luscious and fresh. 
The typical northern-style hot pot is also called Beijing copper hot pot, which goes perfectly with paper-thin lamb slices. Local residents dip the lamb into a sesame sauce containing fermented bean curds and green onions.

3. The southern

Jiangsu- and Zhejiang-style, Yunnan-style and Guangdong-style hot pots are collectively known as the Southern-style. Just like there are various dialects spoken in the southern part of China, there are also many local-style hot pots that local residents enjoy most during winter.
Friends have hotpot together. /VCG Photo

Friends have hotpot together. /VCG Photo

Since many homes in southern China lack a heating system, hot pot has gradually become a popular addition to many people's daily lives, providing a good way for them to keep warm during winter months.
Yunnan-style hot pot is known for its soup base with wild mushrooms – special treats for visitors to Yunnan Province. In particular, most wild mushrooms are vacuum stored for further use in order to keep the original taste. 
Residents of east China's Zhejiang and Jiangsu Provinces add chrysanthemums to their hot pot to remain in good health.
Cantonese are well known for their creative ways of dining. As for Guangdong-style hot pot, there are many kinds of soup bases, including beef and seafood, and the most popular forms are Chaoshan beef hot pot and chicken hot pot. 
Hot pot is not only a traditional food that Chinese people enjoy during the winter, it's also a chance to communicate with friends and family. People share stories and build relationships over a steamy pot. 
Apart from the various Chinese hot pot styles, there are also many foreign hot pots entering the Chinese market that are popular with today's young people, such as Thai and Japanese hot pots. However, the quality of the hot pot is what really matters if it wants to keep its popularity in China.