A cultural melting pot

By Li Yingxue | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-11-18 08:13
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The dregs vinegar soup base is both sour and spicy. [Photo provided to China Daily]

National demand is simmering for a new style of hotpot based on a Hainan delicacy, Li Yingxue reports.

As the temperature in Beijing plummets, people in the capital are naturally drawn to the warmth of a bubbling hotpot. According to on-demand services platform Meituan, the search volume of the keyword "hotpot" in October increased 83 percent over the previous month.

Among the various flavors of hotpot, one stands out, becoming the new favorite of many Beijing restaurateurs, retailers and customers — the dregs vinegar hotpot.

Originated in Puqian town, Wenchang, Hainan province, the spicy and sour dregs vinegar soup is a local traditional street snack with a history of around 500 years, dating back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

The dregs vinegar is fermented from the dregs of the folk liquor making process. The soup is infused with ingredients, such as chili, garlic and sugar, to make it more flavorful, and is served with different vegetables, seafood and animal offal.

The dregs vinegar soup has a milky orange color, and a touch of red hints at its appetizing spicy and sour flavor.

It gradually developed into a hotpot soup base in Hainan. However, it was not until it was introduced in the first season of the documentary Pot of Fire in 2020 that it gained wider recognition among people across the country.

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