China: Black chicken soup
Chicken soup is the classic anti-cold dish. Black chicken has more protein, less fat and fewer calories than the regular variety. Chefs add sweet goji berries, yam and herbs such as dang shen to re-align yin and yang.
Hong Kong: Snake soup
In Hong Kong, the cold-blooded snake is a favorite ingredient for warming up. Traditionally served from family-run stalls, snake soup purportedly speeds up blood circulation and banishes winter aches. The reptile meat is sweetened with chrysanthemum and herbs, is chopped into a very un-snake-like appearance for serving -- and said to taste like chicken.
South Korea: Seolleongtang
Legend has it that in the 15th century, King Seongjong began the ritual of sacrificing a cow and turning it into “snowy soup,” which he ate with the common folk. The stewed ox bones and meat are sometimes mixed with wheat noodles and always garnished with radish kimchi.
South Korea: Tteokguk
On New Year’s morning, South Koreans traditionally serve a soup made from rice cakes, green onions, eggs and seaweed. The white color of the cakes symbolizes purity, while the coin-like shape brings prosperity. Sometimes, the tteokguk has mandu (dumplings) added.
Mongolia: Lamb hot pot
Faced with a lack of utensils, ancient Mongol warriors boiled food in their helmets. The idea of dipping ingredients into a simmering pot of stock spread to northern China during the Tang Dynasty. Mongolian hot pot remains popular in China, and thinly-sliced lamb is particularly satisfying on a frosty day.
This is the season for oden: boiled ingredients, such as fish cakes and eggs, stewed in a dashi and soy broth. The dark, richly-flavored Kanto-daki has roots in the Edo era. Kansai oden is simmered in a light broth, while the Nagoya version is served with miso.
The cast-iron or clay “nabe” was the traditional cooking tool for Japanese farming families. Inside, broth and fresh ingredients -- stewed tofu, seafood, vegetables -- are artfully arranged. Diners huddle together and eat from the single pot.