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Fire in the belly

By Wu Ni ( Shanghai Star ) Updated: 2014-11-14 10:49:50

CHONGQING: Wang Chenshuang, 26

"Genuine Chongqing hot pot must include beef tripe, duck intestines, pig kidney slices and marbled pork. Not many locals here like mutton. We normally cook the meat first and the vegetables later.

"The longer the hotpot boils, the spicier the flavors because the peppers and chilli release their full pungency with the long simmering. To neutralize the heat, the ladies would take guilinggao, a herbal jelly drink made from a medicinal root and thickened with turtle carapace.

"The preferred dip is a sauce made from sesame oil, minced garlic and salt. This sauce reputedly protects the stomach from the spicy heat of the hotpot.

"I love all kinds of hotpot, but I do not like the sesame sauce popular in Beijing. I feel the sauce is too thick and I have to keep drinking water to keep my palate clean."

GUANGZHOU: Jia Sheng, 38

"When cooking hotpot at home, we will buy a herbal soup base which contains Chinese red dates or jujubes, dried slices of kudzu root, dangshen or codonopsis pilosula and other herbs.

"If we eat out at hotpot restaurants, our favorite is the Dragon Tiger Phoenix hotpot, which uses a both made from snake, alligator turtle and chicken cooked with herbs. We usually have a bowl of the tonic soup first, before adding the ingredients to cook.

"The dipping sauce we use is a simple soya sauce, which allows the natural flavors of the fresh ingredients to shine through."

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