Short and mild, Hong Kong’s winters still feature a notable change in dining habits. Here’s what locals like to eat when the weather turns chilly.
Although hotpot-for-one makes this style of eating a possibility for any occasion, traditionally hotpot is a group event. Diners order a soup base and various ingredients, such as seafood, meats and vegetables. The pot of soup is boiled on a stove built into the table. The ingredients are added by the diners at the table, stewed until cooked and then dipped in custom-made dipping sauces that can include anything from black sesame sauce to balsamic vinegar.
It is the flexibility of a hotpot meal that has allowed it to be adapted so well to local tastes. Diners familiar with this style of eating from other parts of China and Asia will be surprised by some of the uniquely Hong Kong ingredients, such as wonton and fish balls, that are added here. With hotpots bubbling 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, you won’t have trouble finding a restaurant.
Another winter staple and local flavour of Hong Kong is claypot. Clay pots are used because of their qualities in providing even heating. The base of most claypot meals is rice — usually a mixture of fresh and aged grains to ensure a moist yet firm texture. Ideally, the rice will be moist in the centre but crispy on the edges. Fatty, juicy meats and fresh vegetables are added and the pot is covered and, traditionally, slow-cooked over a coal-lit fire. In Hong Kong, they often include one of the many unique varieties of Cantonese preserved sausage.