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Hot pot

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Hot pot, less commonly Chinese fondue or steamboat, refers to several East Asian varieties of stew, consisting of a simmering metal pot of stock at the center of the dining table. While the hot pot is kept simmering, ingredients are placed into the pot and are cooked at the table.

Left: Raw meats ready to be cooked.

Typical hot pot dishes include thinly sliced meat, leafy vegetables, mushrooms, wontons, egg dumplings, and seafood. The cooked food is usually eaten with a dipping sauce. In many areas, hot pot meals are often eaten in the winter.

Today in many modern homes, particularly in the big cities, the traditional coal-heated steamboat or hot pot has been replaced by electric or gas versions.

Frozen meat is sliced deli-thin to prepare it for hot pot cooking. Slicing frozen meat this way causes it to roll up during cooking, and it is often presented as such. Meats used include lamb, beef, chicken, and others. The cooking pot is often sunk into the table and fueled by propane, or alternatively is above the table and fueled by a portable butane gas stove or hot coals. Meat or vegetables are loaded individually into the hot cooking broth by chopsticks, and cooking time is brief. Meat often only takes 15 to 30 seconds to cook.

Because steamboat and hot pot styles change so much from region to region, many different ingredients are used.

There are often disagreements between different styles of hot pot enthusiasts. Some like to place items into the hot pot at a relaxed, leisurely pace, enjoying the cooking process, while others prefer to throw everything in at once and wait for the hotpot to return to a boil.

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