Fondue originated in China and since then it has become one of the country’s most iconic and comforting dishes … here’s why.
Just hearing the name “hotpot” implies that the dish has the ability to warm diners from the inside out and, in a sense, it’s true. With all the varieties of this unique dish that can be found all over China, one is sure to give a beginner that warm and fuzzy feeling. The variations on fondue alone make it one of the most versatile and intriguing dishes in the country, but its fondue’s reputation for satisfying makes it a favorite all year round – not just during the colder months. .
The only way to really understand why fondue is so special is to learn why it is so popular in Asia, where it originated from. Don’t be surprised if China makes its way onto the bucket list by the end of it.
The origins of the pot
The history of fondue is said to begin in East Asia where it began for a fairly simple reason. According to La Jolla Mom, the first records of hotpot – or something like it – were found in Mongolia almost 900 years ago. As with many first courses, the base of the fondue was meat that was cooked in a broth that wasn’t nearly spicy as it can be today. Nine centuries ago, the dish was not as complex as it is today and did not include as many ingredients. The vegetables would have been a luxury of sorts, and the purpose of the dish was purely nutritional rather than being used as a common way of eating.
Much in the same way that people could preserve meat or vegetables that were about to be discarded by using them in soup, hotpot was seen as a way of preserving ingredients that could remain in their stash. . As many of these meats or vegetables are nearing the end of their shelf life, it is said that the addition of various spices may have been done to control the unpleasant flavors of the pot. Over time, the dish spread throughout China and many cities added their own twists to it. With a broth base, virtually any blend of spices or seasonings can be added to create unique flavors or regional touches. Additionally, a person visiting China might be able to find a number of types of meat or vegetables depending on the fondue restaurant they are visiting.
There is no main standard when it comes to the dish. The only thing that stays the same between stews (and restaurants) is the way the dish is cooked.
Types of hotpot that can be found all over China
There are a total of six main types of fondue that can be found in China. These vary in flavor and ingredients, and often include local touches that make them specific to the restaurant a guest is eating at.
- Myth: Some people think that all fondues are spicy and that is not true. In reality, there are only two that are likely to wow you with their spice, and they are correctly labeled as such.
Chongqing and Sichuan Hotpots
These are the most common types of fondue when it comes to China’s iconic dish. Although they are very popular and can be found in many fondue restaurants, they are definitely not the only option.
These stews are known for their spicy character thanks to the Sichuan peppers used in them; Panda! Yoo describes Chongqing as a “sweet” spice, while Sichuan hotpot has a “dry” spice flavor. Chongqing hotpot is often referred to as “three spice” hotpot and contains very flavorful meat ingredients, while Sichuan is served with beef, pork, mutton, and / or vegetables.
Also known as Mongolian hotpot, this dish is often served in a copper pot with mutton. The flavor of this fondue is light thanks to the use of spring onions and ginger.
Served with this is a unique sauce made from a blend of vinegar, Chinese chive spice, sesame paste, chili oil, Chinese leeks, and cilantro.
Chaoshan Beef Hotpot
As the name suggests, the main ingredient in this fondue is beef and it is native to eastern China.
This broth is also very light and usually consists of water or a liquid made from bone broth, and is served with meatballs and a tea sauce.
For seafood lovers, a Cantonese fondue is a great option. Seafood is the heart of the dish and the dish is served with a mixture of fish fillets, fish balls, shrimp, chicken, tofu and vegetables.
Every now and then pork is added to the mix, but it’s very rare that a type of beef or mutton is in this pot.
White meat hotpot with Chinese sauerkraut
This dish originates from northeast China and, as the name suggests, is served with white meat and Chinese sauerkraut.
According to Panda! Yoo, this dish was created to preserve vegetables during the long winters of the region. As a result, meat served with âsourâ or pickled vegetables has become a staple in winter.
Guizhou Sweet and sour soup hotpot
Rice is an important ingredient used in making this pot because the leftover water from cooked rice is used in its base. Therefore, the resulting broth is thick and rich and becomes very tasty once garlic, ginger, shallot, Litsea and other seasoning mixes are added to it.
Fish and shrimp are usually served with this pot, but vegetables are the main ingredient. The pot itself is divided into a red broth and a white broth, and it is the latter that contains the most spice and heat.
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