Number one on our list is the Chinese hotpot; a brilliant meal that we Hongkongers know and love. Chinese hotpot dates back more than 1,000 years to the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD) when the style of cooking is said to have spread throughout northern China. It seems like our ancestors knew a thing or two about keeping warm during the winter.
The concept of hotpot is super simple with mouth-watering results. You simply pull out a big pot, fill it with some flavoured steaming soup, put it on a warmer and toss in your preferred ingredients such as fish balls, beef and vegetables. Once done, you fish them out and dunk them in a delicious dipping soy sauce.
An all-time favourite ingredient for hotpot is definitely beef; it doesn't take long to cook and tastes absolutely delicious.
Anybody looking for a great hotpot place should try a two-storey local favourite called the Roast Pot (2529 8383/2529 0881) in Greatmany Centre in Wan Chai. It has the best selection of dipping sauces and ingredients to ensure a great taste.
Second on our wonderfully warm list of hot meals is Japanese shabu-shabu. It also involves cooking thin slices of meat and other ingredients in a boiling pot of water or broth. The name derives from the sound of the meat cooking in the pot.
Japanese shabu-shabu has its roots in China, so it is no wonder that they both have a very similar idea.
Sukiyaki is a spin-off from the traditional shabu-shabu but instead of broth or water, the meat is cooked in a sweet soup mixture made from soy sauce, sugar and a kind of rice wine called mirin. Both shabu-shabu and sukiyaki focus on simmering thinly sliced raw beef along with some thin noodles and fresh vegetables.
There is a wonderful place called the Mou Mou Club on the third floor of the World Trade Centre in Causeway Bay that has a great-value deal for shabu-shabu and sukiyaki. The lunch sets are well worth it for the all-you-can-eat beef set.
The Swiss also like to heat up their winters with a hotpot style of food. Instead of a clear soup base like the Asian hotpots, the Swiss indulge in a heavenly pot of thick melted cheese called fondue.
The earliest known recipe for cheese fondue was said to have originated from a book called Kass mit Wein zu Kochen, roughly translated "to cook cheese with wine", published in Zurich in 1699. Rather than slices of meat, the Swiss dip small chunks of bread or boiled potatoes into their pots of creamy cheese. This hearty dish is guaranteed to give warmth and energy on the coldest nights.
A great place is The Swiss Chalet at 12-14 Hart Avenue in Tsim Sha Tsui. It offers four Swiss cheeses to choose from as your base.