For Eva Chin, chef de cuisine at Kōjin in Toronto, hot pot was an essential in her household. “It brightened my palate when I was able to taste meat, seafood and the earthiness of mushrooms in the broth,” Chin recalled of her first Cantonese hot pot experience as a child. Its laissez-faire spirit actually helped Chin introduce Chinese food to her wife and mother-in-law; they now have a hot pot set-up at home.
Styles of hot pot are differentiated by the ingredients, dipping sauces and types of broth used. Chrysanthemum greens are popular in Taiwanese- and Cantonese-style, while lamb is common for northern Chinese versions. Traditionally, southern Chinese hot pot broth is a clear, seafood-oriented affair that brings out the flavours of the Pearl River Delta. “In North America, they’ve taken all these different styles and hot pot history to encompass the cuisine culture of China,” says Chin.