Xu Jinglei, a well-known Chinese actress was recently found eating hot pot with relish in Sichuan’s capital city of Chengdu while shooting her new movie Confidential. She praised the hotpot as very enjoyable. Aside from Xu, pop diva Faye Wong chose a Chongqing hot pot restaurant as a party venue to celebrate after she finished a concert tour in Beijing last year.
Famous stars are not the only ones who have love for Chinese fondue as numerous people in China and throughout the world have interest in the cuisine. The trend has prompted noted Chinese hot pot restaurant Hao Dilao to reveal its ambition to open chains in US.
Hot pot, named huǒ guō in Chinese, refers to stew consisting of a simmering pot of food at the center of a dining table. While the hot pot is kept simmering, ingredients are placed into the pot and are cooked at the table.
According to famous Chinese scholar and television personality Yi Zhongtian, Chinese cuisine, no matter if it’s fried or steamed is usually made in the kitchen and brought to the table after the cooking process is completed. But hot pot combines both the cooking process and the integration of food. Normally, people who gather to eat hot pot are family members, partners, brothers or friends. This is one of the oldest and most intimate ways of eating dinner.
In China, the steamboat style of cooking hot pot often changes from region to region, with different ingredients used. The varieties include Chong Qing hotpot, Beijing’s mutton in hotpot, Guangdong seafood fondue, Shandong Beef hotpot and Chrysanthemum chafing dish in Jiangsu and Zhejiang.
One of the most famous variations is Chongqing hotpot, markedly different from other types eaten in other parts of China. There is a significant focus put on the soup base during the making process where a special spice known as “flower pepper”, or pepper, is added. It creates a burning and slight numbing sensation on the tongue, almost like a carbonated beverage.
The hotpot was created during the Shang (16th century-11th century BC) and Zhou (11th century-256 BC) dynasties. Chongqing hotpot appeared later, approximately in the Qing dynasty (1644-1911).
Sichuan writer Li Jieren claims Sichuan hot pot originated in Chongqing. ” Dealers in Chongqing usually bought the buffalo visceral, washed them and cooked for a while,” Li said. “Then they cut the liver and stomach into small pieces. They set a mud stove with grid iron pot on it, where spicy, numb and salty soup base was being boiled. Labor workers came and chose a cell in the pot, and cooked themselves then ate several blocks. Price was based on how many pieces they ate. This was economic and energy-increasing.
In the Republic of China era, a small restaurant in Chongqing brought hotpot to the table. A mud stove was kept while a soup base and dipping sauce could be selected by diners themselves. The Chongqing hotpot contains red spices, red-hot soup, dense peppers, and a few sediments of shy spice flavor at the bottom of the pot. Just this glimpse of the boiling water arouses the spread of saliva.
The creation of Chongqing steamboat style is related to the terrain and climate in Sichuan. As a basin area, Sichuan has heavy precipitation in the winter which is often difficult to quickly dissipate, so the spice is used to drive away cold weather from the body. The combination of spices and peppers is perfect, although for some the pepper makes the tongue numb so it is difficult to adapt to.
The soup base is the key to success in Chongqing fondue. If the fondue is Yuanyang type, which is mainly divided into two kinds — red soup and clear soup — taste the soup after it is boiled for a small amount of time. At this moment, the soup is the cleanest with the purest flavor. If the soup is boiled for a long time, it is bad for one’s health due to the production of harmful contents such as Nitrite.
Many people enjoy eating hot pot with cold drinks. For those with elevated blood pressure, if a cold drink is consumed right after eating hot soup, a person’s blood can fluctuate rapidly, running the risk of giving a person a myocardial infarction. It is suggested to make sure one’s blood pressure is stable, sipping cold water after three minutes before sipping hot soup.
Another matter which needs attention is the mouth, esophagus and gastric mucosa normally only tolerate foods and liquids between 50 and 60 ℃, while the soup can reach temperatures up to 120 ℃. Thus, it is easy to burn the mouth, esophagus and gastric mucosa if it is consumed immediately after the food is boiled. Coupled with the spices and other stimuli, it is likely to cause or induce inflammation and ulcers of the digestive organs. Experts advise to wait for the food from the pot to cool down on the saucer before eating.
By Wen Yi Source: chineseculture.org