Just how ancient is hot pot, and what’s the best way to cook the common ingredients?
The origin of hot pot is among the topics that come bubbling to the surface, as hosts Sima Nan and Wang Xiaotian and guests gather round for this episode of TWOC TV to indulge in one of the most iconic meals in China. Many regions claim to have invented it, but “China is definitely one of the birthplaces” of hot pot, says Liu Zhilin, a food historian. Although few historical texts record this hearty and somewhat inelegant activity, hot pot is depicted in a wall painting that dates back to the Liao dynasty (907 AD – 1125 AD). Experts believe that the vessel had even older origins, from a Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) pot known as jiāo dòu (焦斗 ). It is not until the Qing dynasty (1616 AD – 1911 AD) that hot pot first appeared in the court records, under the name Millennium Banquet (千叟宴 Qian sou Yan), which emperors Kangxi and Qianlong would serve to dignitaries. The imperial meal evolved when it spread among the populace, resulting in today’s many different varieties. It has become the focus of viral marketing campaigns and occasional health scandals but, through it all, remains a dining experience that brings people together (unless it’s an instant meal for one). Yan Liqiang of Huo Shi Xian (火食鲜), one of the first factories in China to produce mianjin, the gluten that’s cooked and eaten in hot pot, demonstrates the best way to cook common ingredients, and discus styles including the southern cured meat–based varieties and Empress Dowager Cixi’s fragrant chrysanthemum hot pot. Later, host Xiaomi and chef Hu Xiaowei show viewers how to make a DIY “smashed shrimp paste (虾滑) and a uniquely leaf-shaped mianjin. TWOC TV EP. 17-Part 1
TWOC TV EP. 17-Part 2