Origins of The Hotpot and The Korean Obsession

Hot Stew From China To The World

Hot Pot has many forms and and each has its own beginnings. While some may say its a Korean invention, records show that it started in China. Hot pot is a Chinese cooking method where different types of food stuffs and ingredients are placed in a large pot of simmering soup broth at the dinner table. Diners around the table take what they want from the pot to eat in their individual bowls; they accompany their meals with dipping sauce.

Chinese hot pot history started more than a thousand years ago. When the Mongols overrun China, Mongolian horsemen , who were nomads and accustomed to eat whatever they find in their travels, would use their overturned metal helmets as pots, fill them with water and heat them over flames adding different ingredients like meat and vegetables. As they coursed through the mainland, they would create their own dishes by adding local ingredients where they find them.

It must be a satisfying hot meal especially in the outside cold, so the practice spread throughout China and East Asia. Over time, the hot pot way of cooking developed regional variations with different ingredients added such as beef, lamb, and seafood. Typical hot pot dishes include thinly sliced meat, leafy vegetables, mushrooms, wontons, egg dumplings, tofu, and seafood.

China alone has many variations, the differences lie in the meats used, the soup base, and sauces and condiments used to flavor the meat. In Japan, sukiyaki is one of the most well known, served in small sizes only and usually with raw beaten eggs. Another is shabu-shabu which incorporates rice or noodles. In Taiwan, it’s also called shabu-shabu with dipping sauce and raw egg yolk. In Cambodia, hot pot is called Yao Hon and Chhnang Pleurng that uses coconut milk as the base of the soup. In Thailand, it’s called Thai suki, using dipping sauce with chili sauce, chilli, lime, and coriander leaves. In Vietnam, a hot pot is called lẩu or cù lao, and the soup is sour.

Korea is also obsessed with hot pot, it’s one of the country’s iconic dishes. Among many varieties, Korean Army Stew (Budae Jjigae) is definitely one of the most popular. It’s a fusion stew that includes American style processed food such as spam, sausages, canned baked beans and sliced cheese. The term brings together the words for military base and soup or stew. After the Korean war, surplus processed foods left from the US military bases helped carry over Korean hunger because food was extremely scarce then.

A Bit of American In Seoul Hot Pot

We’ve got Korea’s most popular hot pot dishes. Army Stew is our very popular Sausage and Ham Hot Pot. When you’re craving Korean, drop by Seoul Hot Pot, your Bellevue Korean restaurant.