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In the winter season, when chilly temperatures and frigid winds prevail over the land, people like to eat food that instantly warms their bodies and lifts their spirits. For that, the hot pot is a delicious and hearty choice. Families or groups of friends sit around a table and eat from a steaming pot in the middle, cooking and drinking and chatting. Eating hot pot is not a passive activity: diners must select morsels of prepared raw food from plates scattered around the table, place them in the pot, wait for them to cook, fish them out of the soup, dip them in the preferred sauce, and then eat them hot, fresh, and tender. They can also ladle up the broth from the pot and drink it.|
Hong Kong Hot Pot
While the cooking is in progress there's some waiting, so the diners may sip a little hard liquor. A togetherness ensues, which soothes their hearts. Weilu--to 'circle' a hot pot--has a deep and profound meaning to the Chinese, who are gregarious and strongly emphasize family and clan. It is cozy, yet informal. It's not a banquet, yet it can take as much time as one. It uses a single pot, yet is varied in ingredients, sauces, and cooking styles.
Chrysanthemum and Mutton Hot Pots
Both chrysanthemum and mutton hot pots are Peking style. Chrysanthemum flowers are harbingers of coldness. Back in the old days when chrysanthemums bloom, it was considered the time to start eating hot pot. The principle ingredients are shrimp, thin slices of pork kidney and liver, and fish fillet. These take little time to boil, so alcohol was once used as the fuel for its low heat intensity. When the alcohol burns under the pot, the flames flare out in the shape of a chrysanthemum blossom, and mum leaves are actually scattered into the pot to add a touch of the flavor of the plant.
Mutton hot pot is a legacy of the northern nomads. In Japan it' s called "Genghis Khan cuisine." Sheep grow large in the north, and their meat tends to be tender and less rank. Shuanyangrou (lightly boiled mutton) has long been an enduring item in Peking food restaurants.
Sichuan Hot Pot Also called maotu (hairy stomach) hot pot, like many other dishes of this province, Sichuan hot pot is noted for its spiciness. The pepper oil added to the stock keeps it hot in more than one sense, since it acts as an insulator on the surface of the soup. Special ingredients of this pot are beef tripe, beef marrow, and pig brain. Bring a handkerchief to wipe away your tears as you eat it.