In the past we've covered all the awesome Chinese style hot pots you can try out to keep warm in the winter. There's Spicy Chongqing Hot Pot, Yunnan Mushroom Hot Pot, Beijing Lamb Hot Pot and a bunch more. You can check out our guide to hot pot HERE. But there are a lot of other kinds of stomach warming hot pots in China you can find right on Spoonhunt!
This week we will cover a completely different style of hot pot: Malatang 麻辣烫.
Malatang is the perfect hot pot option if you want the freedom to pick your own broth and ingredients like hot pot without having to eat an entire pot yourself. It is individualized hot pot and is perfect for cold weather. Just like a do-it-yourself salad, you can customize everything about malatang down to the seasonings, spiciness level and ingredients.
The ingredients you pick are cooked in a large vat of boiling broth in separate baskets. Each ingredient is cooked a different amount of time to be perfect. They are all combined into a bowl with broth and whatever toppings you'd like. Every ingredient has its own price ranging from 1-5 RMB (usually) and the price of the dish is up to how much you want in it.
As far as ingredient go for Malatang, pretty much anything that's in play for Hot Pot is in play for Malatang. For meats, you can pick from pork, beef, chicken, lamb, fish, and squid. The fancy Malatang places may have thinly sliced meats that will cook very nicely in the broth, just like hot pot. You can also get meat balls of any kind as well as meat dumplings that get boiled. A popular meat addition is small sausages/hot dogs.
Vegetables for Malatang are split into two different categories: leafy and non-leafy. The leafy vegetables include lettuce, Chinese cabbage, cilantro and spinach, but usually they are just garnishing there for more substance. They take up a lot of room in the soup so it's important not to overload on them. The non-leafy vegetables usually include broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, yams, corn, lotus root, bamboo and mushrooms. These veggies will retain a lot of the flavor from the broth and seasonings so they are important.
NOODLES and TOFU
The base and staples of the malatang are the noodles and the tofu. You have a lot of different noodle types to choose from: potato noodles, ramen, egg noodles, vermicelli, rice noodles, etc. They all have different starch bases, thicknesses and tastes so choose wisely. For tofu, there's just as many if not more types: soft tofu, Japanese egg tofu, tofu balls, frozen tofu, tofu noodles, etc. Tofu gets extremely hot in the broth so watch out!
After the ingredients are cooked and fished out of the broth, they are put in a bowl with soup and toppings. Since this is a variation of Sichuan hot pot, the normal toppings include Sichuan chili oil and ground peppercorn to give it both a numb and spicy taste. There are 3 levels of spicy and numb you can specify, but you could always opt out of the spice. Instead you could try peanut sauce, sesame seeds, vinegar, and most of the other dipping sauce ingredients you would see at hot pot.
To find an Malatang place near you, search "Malatang" in the Spoonhunt app!
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