#127: 火锅

Hotpot-Set, Courtesy of Weng Xinyu.

火锅是中国人很喜欢的一种品尝食物的方式。人们把一个金属锅放在桌子的中央,里面盛着汤,把新鲜的食物摆在锅的周围。大家围坐在桌子周围,一边把食物放在锅里煮,一边吃煮好的食物。这就叫吃火锅。

用来煮食物的汤叫做“锅底”。如果你想吃火锅,可以去超市买现成的锅底,也可以自己用食物调制出美味的锅底。有了锅底,就可以把各种食物放进去煮了。肉、蔬菜、海鲜、豆腐、菌菇、面食,等等,都可以用来做火锅的食材。此外,吃火锅还要有蘸料,食物在汤里煮熟后,要在蘸料里蘸一下,吃起来就会更有味道。

火锅在中国有几千年的历史。在中国的不同地方,流行不同味道的火锅。比如,重庆的麻辣火锅是非常有名的一种火锅,它的特点,就是在锅底中加了很多辣椒和花椒,吃起来非常地辣。北京人喜欢吃涮羊肉火锅,也就是把羊肉切成薄片,放在火锅里煮。广东人的海鲜火锅,吃的主要是海鲜类的食材。在东北还有一种酸菜火锅,是用酸菜做锅底的火锅。

火锅的类型也有很多种,比如,有老北京的铜锅、广州的小汤锅、四川和重庆人的大铁锅,还有九宫格形式的全辣型火锅,等等。现在,有越来越多的人喜欢吃火锅,在聚会时为了满足更多人的口味,就有了一半辣一半不辣的鸳鸯火锅。

中国人喜欢在冬天吃火锅,因为冬天天气冷,热气腾腾的火锅,能让我们的身体变得暖和起来。一起吃火锅的人,一般都是家人,或者非常要好的朋友。和家人、朋友围坐成一圈,大家一起吃一锅菜,体现了彼此间深厚的感情。吃火锅的时候,气氛往往是非常热闹的。圆圆的火锅,也象征着团团圆圆。

Hot pot is one of the favourite ways that Chinese like to savour food. One takes a metal pot and places it in the middle of the table, fills it with soup and then places fresh food around it. Everyone sits around the table putting food into the pot to cook while eating the food that’s already been cooked. This is what ‘eating hotpot’ is.

The soup used for cooking the food is called ‘guodi’ (soup base). If you want to eat hot pot you can go to the supermarket and buy a ready made soup base or you could also make a delicious soup base from fresh ingredients. (1) Once you have your base you can put in all sorts of food to cook. Meat, vegetables, seafood, tofu, mushrooms and fungi, noodles (8) (11) can all be used as ingredients in a hot pot. In addition, when eating hot pot you also need dipping sauces; once the food has been cooked in the soup you should dip it in a sauce for even more flavour.

Hot pot goes back several thousand years in China. (2) Different flavoured hot pots are popular in different parts of China. For example the numbing hot pot of Chongqing is a type of hot pot that is particularly famous. Its characteristic is that to the soup base are added many chillies and Szechuan peppers so it tastes (5) particularly spicy-hot. (3) In Beijing they like to eat Mongolian hot pot, i.e.mutton sliced thinly and added to the pot to cook. In the seafood hot pot of the Cantonese, the food (4) consists mainly of seafood ingredients. (9) In the northeast there is a type of pickled cabbage hot pot; it uses pickled cabbage to make the soup base.

As for the hot pot pots, there are also many kinds. For example the copper pots of oldtime (6) Beijing, the small soup pots of Guangzhou, the large steel pots of Sichuan and Chongqing and also the pots resembling squared paper for calligraphy practice used in all spicy hot pot (13). Nowadays more and more people like to eat hot pot. At parties, in order to satisfy the taste of even more people, split hotpots (10) have appeared (12) – half spicy hot half not spicy.

Chinese like to eat hot pot in winter because in winter the weather is cold and the steaming-hot hot pot can warm up our bodies. People eating hot pot together are generally family members or particularly close friends. To sit around in a circle with family or friends all eating a pot (7) of food together embodies the deep feeling that everyone has for each other. When eating hot pot the atmosphere is often extremely lively. The round hotpot also symbolises reunion.

1. The Chinese just has ‘food, foodstuffs’ but fresh ingredients is all that makes sense in English.

2. Using the word ‘history’ also reads ok but I suspect that my translation is pretty spot on.

3. (Translator’s note: it’s not as hot as many Chinese seem to think.)

4. Note this not so obvious word for ‘food’ – 吃的.

5. The dictionary is rather misleading here. This construction is similar to 看起来 and 听起来.

6. A tricky use of 老. Most often used with 北京 and 上海. 老北京 and 老上海 are almost set phrases.

7. 锅 used as a measure word.

8. Chinese seems to love to add etc. to the end of such a list. I think it’s a mistake to always include it in the translation.

9. The dictionary gives ‘food’, ‘edibles’.

10. The pot has a divider down the middle so one pot can contain two separate soup bases.

11. My dictionary bizarrely gives this as ‘cooked wheaten food’. This actually refers to noodles, dumplings and the like made from wheat flour.

12. Note this extra use of 有 indicating something appearing or occurring.

13. Yes, rather cumbersome. Luckily you can read Chinese. These pots likened to calligraphy practice paper are divided into nine sections. The reference to all spicy means that all nine sections contain a different sauce but all are spicy-hot.

by Robert Budzul

 

1 Comment

  • Alexis

    能让我们的身体变得暖和起来
    There's a typo in this sentence.