Traditional hot pot brews with variety of flavors in Sichuan

China 24

Taste of Sichuan

Known for its spice and red hot chili peppers, Sichuan food is famous throughout the world. But as we discovered in Sichuan’s capital Chengdu, it’s so much more- from street to banquet hall, there are thousands of flavors. CGTN America’s Nathan King gives us a sampling.

Sichuan cuisine with one of its most famous dishes is Hot Pot.

The traditional way of cooking meat and vegetables in steaming broth is common all over China and Asia too.But Sichuan Hot Pot is among the world’s favorites. And it’s best shared with family and friends.

CGTN’s Nathan King was recently in China and got a chance to explore the cuisine first hand.

Traditional hot pot brews with variety of flavors in Sichuan

Sichuan cuisine with one of its most famous dishes is Hot Pot. The traditional way of cooking meat and vegetables in steaming broth is common all over China and Asia too.But Sichuan Hot Pot is among the world’s favorites. And it’s best shared with family and friends. CGTN’s Nathan King was recently in China and got a chance to explore the cuisine first hand.

In the heart of Chengdu, it is a cool spot to eat hot pot. The street-side restaurant evokes a simpler time, of China in the 1980s when hot pot stands were among the first private businesses.

Wang Shiwu, better known by his fans as “Uncle 9” it is a new place but already got the thumbs up from our food critic guide.

While the broth boils customers can pick out their own meat and vegetables like in a grocery store, and pay by the stick. Beef, chicken ,tofu and vegetables and then cheaper cuts which are perfect for hot pot; pigs’ lungs, ducks’ tongue and other delicacies work well in the broth, and according to Uncle 9, looked back to the origins of hot pot in the region.

“A long time ago, dock men were poor and their work was tiring. They needed some kind of food to refresh them. This is how hot pot started. They retrieved animal organs that were floating on water from upstream of Yangtze River, and put them into a pot with dry peppers and other seasoning. They made it flavorful, spicy and juicy,” Wang Shiwu, Sichuan Food Critic said.

Hot pot has come a long way since its humble origins. There are so many varieties, so many different ingredients.

“People in Chengdu made a simpler version of hot pot and called it “Mala tang.” Mala tang was called “handy skewer” because it was more convenient. Besides cayenne, Sichuan peppercorns and seasoning, it also uses ox oil and seed oil. Different oil could simulate different flavors. Chili bean sauce makes the color brighter,” Shiwu said.

It’s spicy but so many flavors, too. Your tongue tingles, goes numb and then tingles again. The traditional way to eat hot pot in Chengdu includes a paste which you mix yourself from crushed peanuts, hot Sichuan peppers and broth.

There are thousands of hot pot restaurants in Chengdu alone, but Sichuan food has so much more to it. And Uncle 9 has only just begun to show us.

Watch more on this Sichuan Cuisine Series:

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