Though the invention of hot pot can’t be substantiated, it’s easy to imagine its earliest form existing around a prehistoric bonfire. The story goes that the earliest hot pot was enjoyed by Mongol horsemen boiling meats and vegetables in their overturned metal helmets over an open fire. After thousands of years bubbling away at tables around China, hot pot—as much a social activity as a meal—has taken off aggressively in the United States, bringing with it innovations in both flavor and flair. And it’s about damn time.
The term “hot pot” plainly describes the technique of cooking raw meats and other food items in flavorful broths, but its meaning belies the limitless range of experiences that we now associate with the term. At home, hot pot is still a relatively simple affair; at restaurants, both in the United States and Asia, it has taken on a whole new dimension, with luxury ingredients and high-tech spaces.
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