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caution © Robert Sommers 2019

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Hot Pot

Over the years I have received continual prodding from friends that I could be (have been?) the next Bourdain or Jonathan Gold if I either applied myself or caught a break. That is very flattering, not sure if it is true, but I appreciate the sentiment. It is true that I am a rather critical sort. And I do love to eat and try new food.

The truth is that I may feign a degree of culinary sophistication but there are some big holes in my game, mainly because I am ensconced in a relatively provincial burg and not some big urban melting pot.

So a lot of foods that normal New Yorkers and San Franciscans encounter so casually every day are totally foreign to me. Embarrassing but true. And one of those things is the hot pot.

This style of Chinese cuisine, which has branches in both Chengdu and Chongqing, has totally escaped me. I've watched people eat it but I don't really know how to attack it.

The hot pot vogue started way back in the Han dynasty, about 206 b.c. to 220 a.d.. There are many regional schools and variations. The Chongqing style dish translates to 麻辣 "numb and spicy." The Chengdu version fancies itself as being more culturally "refined."

In hot pot cooking there is typically a large taoist shaped server with two different communal broths that you dip various foodstuffs into, one broth usually spicier than the other. The yin and the yang, if you will.

文王之製 - King Wen, the literary King
When I meet asian people the conversation quickly comes around to food. I am always looking for tips. And many of the places around the San Diego area that they favor are hot pot restaurants.

I have heard good things about both Tasty Hot Pot and Little Sheep. Interestingly, both of these restaurants are part of national chains. Never been to either one.

There is an excellent article on the cuisine in this week's New Yorker by Jiayang Fan titled Go Bold at Da Long Yi Hot Pot. Fan breaks the subject down wonderfully and whets my appetite for a try.

I am not going to belabor this, but I am going to ask a favor. Is there a reader out there who really knows the cooking who can take me on my embryonic journey with the hot pot and show me my way around? Soon?

1 comment:

Jerry Hall said...

Sam Woo BBQ inside the 99 Ranch Market on Claremont Mesa Blvd has great Chinese cuisine. They have several excellent hot pots on the menu, as well as a wonderful war won ton soup. Their entrees are delightful as well. Great seafood dishes too. Always busy. Served fast and fresh.