Here is the Chongqing hot pot, under local people view in “A bite of Chongqing”, from the famous TV broadcast “A bite of China”. Another video of this hotpot from foreigners view is available in this post.
The narration is in chinese, translation is available under the video.
- This hotpot museum owns innumerable objets. The birth and spreading of hotpot is not new. As soon as first primitive societies were created, with the discovery of fire and potery, hotpot naturally appeared. The characteristic of Chongqing’s people is their deep love for their hotpot.
This is an example bought in the kiln: a three colors pot from Tang dynasty, it costs 25000 euros.
The products of this museum are much older than its custodians. Exposed here from about 50 years, their gather more than 2000 years of history. This kind of objects allow ingredients to release their flavours due to a good warming capacity. The inhabitants of Chongqing, who love strong tastes, cook this hotpot since thousand of years.
- The Chongqing hotpot is a trademarck famous throughout the country, even the world. It is the property of 33 billions people in Chonqging, a great panorama of the entire city, that every people will proudly accept.
Despite all the qualities of “mala” (typical spice of Chongqing mixing hot pepper and Sichuan pepper), they cannot explain the legend of hotpot. But then, behind a bite of hotpot, apart from “mala”, what is the secret of this strong and deep custom in Chongqing ?
The majority of people who manage of hotpot restaurant in Chongqing similarly start their day of work: go to Mianhua market. Every day, at 2 a.m., the Mianhua market opens its door. The ingredients are stored and manipulated to keep their freshness. In Chongqing hotpot, people eat everything you could ever imagine. Beef stomach, duck intestines, aorta, pork brain… This ingredients which appears totally useless to other people in China are though the typical and popular ones in Chongqing restaurants. If we had to establish a rule to select ingredients, the only one might be the freshness. A shape reminding the aspect of bamboo leaf reveals that the beef stomach would be crispy. The aorta have to be washed on both sides, carefully rubbed between fingers in order to reach the body temperature, it is the only way to keep the original taste. At Linjiang, in Mianhua street, the deckhands cooked abandonned organs of animals in a pot. Adding some “mala” their hid their unpleasant taste of organs. Nowadays, the Mianhua street, along the river, has become the largest kitchen for hotpot in Chongqing and plays the role of organs markets, not particularly common in the country.
The gleams of dawn in Mianhua street are now spiking through the market. The carefully selected ingredients are stored in cars boots: Chongqing is waking up. A strange thing, that the products of Mianhua market are not among the ones of Mr. Zhang. The hotpot ingredients are all directly delivered from the next street market, avoiding delivery time. The race against time to preserve freshness of ingredients is permanent. The preparation of hoptpot is a difficult work for the cooker, especially for the beef stomach. Its cutting will influence the final taste. You have to tear apart pieces of stomach using hands instead of using a knife.
In chinese gastronomy, there is only the Chongqing hotpot which makes butter a special ingredient. Only a carefully selected cow fat will be able to give the amazing taste during the cooking. The way of preparing ingredients is different for every restaurant. Expect the cooker, nobody can enter the kitchen during preparation time, it is the top chef’s secret. During the cooking process, butter serves as the base for the soup. Its special chemical componants, by mixing with spices create an indicible taste. This tradition, it is the same since 1000 years.
As many locals in Chongqing, Fan Yonghua often eats hotpot at home. We say that Chongqing inhabitants have a special talent. One says that they can identity the strength of a hot pepper and know how to select the best “mala” by looking at it. The flavours of Sichuan pepper and hot pepper help to evacuate bad smells of several kind of meet, stimulate saliva production and dilate blood vessels. In addition they are supposed to reduce arterial pressure. Though, according to Chonqging people, these are not the most important things. The exciting nature of Sichuan pepper et hot pepper, that chill you from the feet to the head and bring a feeling of great satisfaction is the root of the passion of Chongqing’s people for hotpot. How to stir a spoon of old oil, a slice of “mala” is the little secret of each family. The art of cooking chinese hopot in Chongqing is a skill that is passed from generation to generation.
The favorite dish of Fan Yonhua’s children, is the hotpot made by their dad, tasty and unique. All the familly gathers around a warm pot, which reveals another secret of the Chongqing hotpot:
- Everybody can sit in a room, at the table, around this pot and eat this dish. All the ingredients are added in a big pot. A symbol of tolerance and understanding.
Every night, all hotpots in his city gleam like thousand of stars. Chongqing hot pots struggle against the night with their own fires. The ingredients swimming in the soup are a symphony. This harmony, included Yin and Yang is a real piece of life. Their is nor coincidence in this world, neither legend… all things exist for a reason…like hotpot, which is the witness of the time elapsing..