How to Eat Sichuan Hot Pot
According to the guidebook, the Sichuan region is famous for spicy food cooked with Sichuan pepper. This special pepper numbs your mouth instead of burning it. It’s not for everyone, but we love it. Chongqing is the Sichuan hot pot capital of the world. We have a Sichuan restaurant at home, but we’d never had hot pot. When we arrived we put discovering hot pot at the top of list.
We didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into. We only had a rough idea of what it was and had no idea how to eat it. Because of the language barrier, we relied on pantomime to figure out the following basic steps of hot pot:
1. Order a giant cauldron of super oily, spicy and spice-filled broth.
2. Select ingredients to put in broth – meat, seafood and vegetables. Guessing may be required.
3. Make personal spice concoction for dipping that includes sesame oil, cilantro, garlic, etc. and, of course, more pepper.
4. Let ingredients from Step 2 cook in cauldron from Step 1.
5. Remove cooked ingredients from pot and, if you want, dip them in water to remove the oil, then dip them in your personal spice concoction.
It’s quite a process and, even for spice lovers like Sasha and I, it packed a punch.
We tried it a few times and enjoyed our meals, but in the end we found it a little too oily for our tastes. We also couldn’t help but think our arteries might not stay clear through the morning.