Thursday, September 9, 2010

Chengdu street hotpot

Street Hotpot - portable and on wheels, this type of cuisine helps make Sichuan such an adventurous eating destination. here we have ingredients - vegetables and Dofu - that are commonly used in this spicy meal.

Sichuan hotpot - the main ingredient being a great pot of bubbly spice laden oil, can be likened to a huge fondue. It especially appeals to chili-pepper fans - and is often on the list of must-does for Chengdu visitors. Normally tourists take into one of numerous hotpot restaurants that are so common in this part of the world - but in these, often crowded and hectic eateries, trying to get yourself a Hotpot meal without the help of guide or translator can be a daunting task. One way out of this problem is to try the street version of hotpot - far easier here to see and point at ingredients, great fun eating on the street and lots cheaper than a lot of those indoor hotpots.

Double trouble, boil and bubble - naw it ain't a witches brew - this is the cooking oil being heated up in preparation for making that day's dishes. Note those peppers - and the red pepper induced color of this potent concoction.
Street hotpot differs from normal indoor hotpot in that all the ingredients are boiled up by a cook - while at the restaurant you're the cook and have your cooking pot - together with a gas burner - in the middle of the table.

Here's Meggie choosing our hotpot ingredients - each is pinned onto a stick and then placed into the boiling pot. The sticks in this place averaged around 0.1yuan each (yes that one tenth of an RMB) - and we chose around 60 sticks for 2 people. We had a veggie hotpot - if you want to eat meat and fish - these sticks of course will be a little more expensive.

Cooking - here the cook is boiling those sticks in the pot. There are also those bamboo ladle type contraptions that are used to boil ingredients - like bean sprouts, certain mushrooms and tofu that are impossible to boil on a stick.

And the finished meal - we chose to have our hotpot served up in bowl of hot hotpot oil - but you can also get it without. As in a normal indoor hotpot you can get a sauce made of coriander, chopped garlic and sesame oil - otherwise you can just dip into ground red-pepper - that is if you want an already spicy meal even spicier! In such circumstances a cold beer can prove a very useful antidote to the dangers of chili overdose.
In our hotpot - you can see Yellow cubes of tofu - mushrooms (oysterhat) - potato slices - kohlrabi and cabbage. Lurking in its depths is another kind of tofu - thin yellow mushrooms that look like those Japanese ones (whatever they're called) - sliced lotus root - bean spouts - cauliflower and a lot of red pepper!!!!!!!!!
But don't worry - ate that about a week ago - and still living to tell the tale.

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