Hotpot, an Adventure of Palate

Authors: Home in Chengdu


Walking through Chengdu at night, you will smell the special aroma of hotpot.
People enjoy the warmth brought by hotpot in winter and love eating hotpot to dispel the dampness in summer.
Hotpot is a lifestyle in all seasons. Locals show special passion for hotpot and some even have hot pot every month or every week. If one goes without having hotpot for a long time, he or she may feel that something has been missed. After returning to Chengdu from other cities, the first priority is to rush into a hotpot restaurant to quench the cravings for hotpot. Various types of food can be put into hotpot, such as meat, seafood, vegetables, soybean products. We can say it embodies the happiness and satisfaction of Chengdu lifestyle.
There is no need to worry about spiciness and ingredients when having Chengdu hotpot. If spiciness is your concern, a double-flavor hotpot is available, with one part offering red chili soup and the other serving clear soup. It seems that such a concept is in the line with the balance of Yin and Yang, according to Chinese philosophy.
For ingredients, it totally depends on your preference for food. You may try some common food or those you have never tried before. The only question is: your stomach is not large enough for the food.
For non-locals, if it is the first time for you to have hotpot, you are recommended to dine in a restaurant that stages local folk custom performance. That will be an impressive experience.
What does Chengdu hotpot look like?
The pot of Chengdu hotpot is different from mutton hotpot in Northern China. It is relatively flat and wide. Pure red chili pot (spicy) or clear soup pot (not spicy) has no partition in the center. For double-flavor pot, it is divided into two parts or with a smaller pot in the center, which offers two flavors at the same time.
What can be found on the menu of a hotpot restaurant?
Normally, a menu is a page of sheet, listing various pots and soup, food, snacks, wines and soft drinks. Customers tick what they want to order and then hand it to a waiter or waitress.
Hotpot soup: "Red chili pot" or at least a double-flavor pot should be the first choice if you want to try hotpot. For red chili pot, there are multiple choices for you, such as mild to medium and very spicy as well as rapeseed oil and beef tallow flavors is more traditional and the reddish yellow solid grease which you often find in the pot is the beef tallow.
Chili pepper has already been integrated into the grease, so the taste is strong, mellow and spicy. For rapeseed oil flavor, a large amount of Chinese prickly ash and chili pepper are put into the oil. The taste is less stimulating.
Dipping sauce: An authentic dipping sauce of Chengdu hotpot needs blending oil and sesame oil, caraway, scallion and mashed garlic. Besides,oyster sauce, spicy sauce and vinegar are also recommended in order to create rich texture.

Food: It is said that, in a hotpot restaurant, the food served on a table can help tell whether those customers are locals or not. If customer ordered many streaky beef and meatballs, then they are non-locals; if ox tripe, duck intestines, pig brain, animal's kidney and other types of intestines are ordered, then these are local customers. It works most of the time.

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