Dry Pot is the New Hot Pot

 

 

-by Ernie Diaz


It’s both a rite of passage and a group-dining fixture. From the steamy, cavernous Xiao Fei Yang restaurant chain to the up-scale Hai Di Lao, hot pot still packs restaurants full, even in these recession-hit times.

 

And rightly so. A certain magic interactivity marks the hot pot meal. Not only beef slices and mushrooms, but also exotic items like duck blood and pig brains populate hot pot menus. A bubbling cauldron takes center stage at the table, a live flame underneath.

 

When the items arrive, the spirit of do-it-yourself, catch-as-catch-can enlivens the party. Even those proving their multicultural sensitivity by eating jellied blood have the assurance that five minutes in boiling broth will leech much of the ‘distinctive’ flavor. And there’s always the ma jiang to dip in, savory sesame sauce capable of making old shoe leather palatable.

 

But hot pot’s strengths are also its weaknesses. Fish ball and bone marrow alike lose most of their essence to the boiling water. By the time that errant crab stick gets fished from the bottom and dipped in ma jiang, the only thing to distinguish it from a hunk of dried tofu is its texture.

 

This inherent flaw is addressed but by no means remedied with the heaps of red pepper usually mixed in to the broth. The burn factor assuages the 99% of Chinese people who believe something can only be tasty if it hurts the tongue. The few dissenting, including many foreigners, can ask that the pot be divided into spicy and non-spicy halves. Still, the hot pot experience is a uni-flavored affair. Its purgative effects are small solace to the regular.

 

Enter dry pot, an alternative that removes boiling water from the equation. The same sundry list of ingredients await your orchestration – diced potato and yam, thin slices of flesh from all that goes on four legs and much that goes on two, innards, outers, and pretty much any product of photosynthesis.

 

Granted, you’re foregoing that proactive element of dropping ingredients into the soup. The kitchen takes care of that for you. The giant bowl arrives at your table with everything pre-cooked to perfection. There are worse fates.

 

For starters, you don’t have to worry about whether the chopsticks going in your mouth are the same ones you just used to handle raw lamb. No more prodding the primordial soup for a piece of mushroom and having to settle for a slice of lotus before fellow diners notice your lack of skill. No more drip-drying your catch yet still turning your end of the table into a sodden mess.

 

The greatest argument for dry over hot pot, however, is the flavor. Hot pot establishments have spent eons concocting proprietary blends of spices with which to flavor their broth. Standards such as garlic, ginger and scallions are mixed in with dozens of obscure flavorings, many without English names. To what end? All is lost to scalding water, red pepper, and the conciliatory tang of ma jiang. No wonder the hot pot establishments of old would add pinches of opium to the broth to hook diners.

 

Dry pot employs the same array of different seasonings, but their lack of dilution reveals the genius of the concoctions. Westerners know that a well-thought-out sandwich beats eating the individual ingredients, hands-down. Salami and cheese, some sliced tomato, mayo and mustard, fluffy bread, the synergy drives a significant share of global food services.

 

Now imagine the flavor potential of forty-seven different herbs, spices, and other seasonings. This was the number given by the manager of a dry pot restaurant overflowing recently at dinnertime, while competing venues nearby had ten tables empty for every one occupied, even the hot pot joint. No matter what’s ordered, it all settles into a tangy, savory, salty, fragrant, pungent, divine blend, thanks to the spice combo, otherwise lost in a flood of hot water.

 

For the less subtle, tongue abuse is still an option with dry pot. At least four and as many as seven levels of red pepper indulge everyone from the weekend chipper to the hardened Sichuanese la jiao junky. Whether you go pepper-free or seven-alarm blaze, cold beer compliments no known Chinese food better, overwhelmed taste buds screaming in relief as they’re soothed by frosty suds.

 

The foregoing is no pitch for dry pot. It’s acknowledgment of a new trend. Before too long, the centuries-old argument of who invented hot pot – Beijing, Sichuan, or Mongolia – will be irrelevant. Just as the five years of Korean BBQ fever finally abated, hot pot mania is on the wane, while its more savory cousin dry pot is on the ascendant. Think of it as culinary Darwinism in action.

 

 

This entry was posted in Food. Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to Dry Pot is the New Hot Pot

  1. croatia says:

    Interesting, although I am not a fan of Chinese kitchen.

  2. Definition says:

    I love the chinese food.I really like htis site.keep updating more

  3. Mitch Firkin says:

    “Culinary Darwinism?” HAHAHAHAHAHAHA Good one

  4. Ernie says:

    Only the strongly flavored survive. Badum-bum.
    *crickets*

  5. Chinese cuisine originated from the various regions of China and has become widespread in many other parts of the world — from Asia to the Americas, Australia, Western Europe and Southern Africa. In recent years, connoisseurs of Chinese cuisine have also sprouted in Eastern Europe and South Asia. American Chinese cuisine and Canadian Chinese food are popular examples of local varieties.

  6. The soup was simply delectable but I was told not to gulp down too much of the soup as it could be very heaty. Why heaty? That’s because it has lots of herbs in it, coupled with the broth from the beef and lamb meat that were cooked inside the pot of soup.

  7. Chinese food need never be a once-a-week-restaurant treat again! Free and mouth watering Chinese recipes, easy to follow and cook.

  8. In modern times, Beijing cuisine and Shanghai cuisine on occasion are also cited along with the classical eight regional styles as the Ten Great Traditions (十大菜系). There are also featured Buddhist and Muslim sub-cuisines within the greater Chinese cuisine, with an emphasis on vegetarian and halal-based diets respectively.

  9. Ernie says:

    Thanks for the recommendation.

  10. i totally agree with the chinese philosophy ,, till something hurts your tounge ,, it is not tasty ,, it is same in india too , we like spicy food .

  11. i totally agree with the chinese philosophy ,, till something hurts your tounge ,, it is not tasty ,, it is same in india too , we like spicy food .

    indians prefer green chillies opposite to chinese who use red chillies more often.

  12. Thas looks just delicious!!

  13. Abby says:

    A lot of people are not able to resist hot pots because it is able to give a whole new meaning to eating as well as gives the people the freedom to somewhat give the food a personal touch.

  14. G. Jameson says:

    That certainly looks exceedingly yummy! You certainly managed to manipulate my brain into hunger with that image ;)

  15. Reach Local says:

    Well, China is growing larger. Chinese food as very tasty indeed. Chinese people eat each & every living thing & thats why

    they have got some many restaurants offering different kinda foods.

    Thanks

  16. Yummm, it looks Delicious ! Just wondering, how Chinese cuisines are getting famous day by day! Hot pot keeps the food warm & gives a natural taste too!

    Thanks
    Online Pharmacy
    http://www.onlinepharmacydrugs.us

  17. Comparing home made/Restaurant made fresh healthy food with fast foods like McDonalds OR Pizza hut is foolish !

    Chinese food have gained alot of popularity & customer satisfaction over the time ! I love Chinese & Japanese food.


    Lawyers Database

  18. Seo says:

    Hot Pot was invented from in China & it have been used in Chinese from centuries.. This is Chinese tradition…


    Seo

  19. Well, Chinese culture have been very popular ! Chinese food is one of the tastiest food served all over the globe ! I remember when I visited a chinese food festival where the food was served in hot pot!

    :)

  20. I think Chinese people tastes every thing. Their food becomes very popular and very tasty as well. They have different kinds of restaurant. Even they have cat restaurant, which we never expected to eat. But after they have finished preparing to eat most of them are very tasty and good flavor. Their soups making are very special.

  21. vitamins says:

    Well, its true! Chinese people eat almost everything! They have got so many special restaurants!

    Vitamins

  22. Chinese food restaurants are a common fare in New York. Just walk around any major street in Manhattan and you would find many Chinese food restaurants. Chinese food is the best!.

    Cheers!

  23. USA Gambling says:

    I just love chinese food. This food in this picture looks so good. I just love the traditional food that they cook. I would love to travel here to eat the food.

  24. Tents says:

    As Chinese Population is growing, the Chinese Food Chain throughout the world is growing in a vice versa! Chinese tradition have been really getting popular these days! The food, the cloths, the homes & the Chinese Style Tents!

    Thanks

  25. The daily ration of Chinese people consists of vegetables, fruits, meat and grains. Dairy consumption is limited
    because of lactose intolerance, instead of that tofu and soymilk are used.

    Thanks

  26. Casino Bonus says:

    I remember eating Chinese food in a Chinese restaurant. they served the food in a dry pot . Food was quite tasty…

    Thanks

  27. Dry pot employs the same array of different seasonings, but their lack of dilution reveals the genius of the concoctions. Westerners know that a well-thought-out sandwich beats eating the individual ingredients, hands-down. Salami and cheese, some sliced tomato, mayo and mustard, fluffy bread, the synergy drives a significant share of global food services.

    Cheers!
    Plasterboard a ceiling

  28. This sounds really tasty man. My mouth is watering. I love to eat Chinese foods. They look so good and interesting. Man, I am so hungry now.

  29. After having tried dry pot for the first time not too long ago, I have to say it is pretty good stuff!

  30. Sounds great. Will have to try it sometime :)

  31. Data Storage says:

    Well, its true! Chinese people eat almost everything! They have got so many special restaurants!

  32. wow, it looks delicious. I like it every much.

  33. The daily ration of Chinese people consists of vegetables, fruits, meat and grains. Dairy consumption is limited
    because of lactose intolerance, instead of that tofu and soymilk are used.

    Thanks

  34. Ernie says:

    Sure, as of 1986. Ask any Chinese person under 30 what they had for breakfast that day. "Bread and milk."

  35. As Chinese Population is growing, the Chinese Food Chain throughout the world is growing in a vice versa! Chinese tradition have been really getting popular these days! The food, the cloths, the homes & the Chinese Style Tents!
    Regards

  36. Wow!!! I have view your article and this is interesting and very useful. I need any more articles. Thanks for knowledge.
    cigs online

  37. Ernie says:

    Yeah, especially orange chicken and broccoli beef. You export your crap, we'll export ours. Plus you forgot to mention that McDonald's is famous in China as a cool place to hang out for four hours for the price of an ice cream cone.

  38. Chinese food is much better than food at McDonalds. Our recipes are famous all around the world, as McDonalds is famous for its burgers only.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>