China has always been the centre of creativity with bizarre and visionary innovations. A new invention in the food industry is the creation of instant self-heating hotpot. As the hotpot now enters the Malaysian market, curiosities arise. Will it taste and feel the same as dining in a hotpot restaurant?
Trendy, healthy and a great way to socialise
Going for a buffet of hotpot or steamboat can easily turn to be a good hangout and bonding session idea. Paying a fixed amount to eat all you can, and cook your dinner on the spot is a great way to spend time with friends and family.
However, some may argue that it is time-consuming to go out and have a hotpot. Furthermore, some restaurants would charge a ludicrous amount, way more than what we can afford to gobble down.
And with the dangers of the pandemic still lurking, many are still reluctant to go out to dine. Hence, it was timely that China’s food manufacturers came about with the idea of a ‘lazy self-heating hotpot’, or instant hotpot.
The hotpot lifestyle in China goes back around 1,000 years ago. What was once a winter favourite, is now available 365 days a year. It is the most popular way to dine as it is as easy as throwing in ingredients in a boiling broth.
The two reasons why hotpots are favoured in the China is because hotpot is a great way to socialise and it is also healthier. A flavourful broth which is usually infused by bone nutrients is always better than fried food.
Besides that, the Chinese believe that eating hotpot can warm the body and improve blood circulations during the winter. While in the summer, eating from a hotpot can increase perspirations to help cool the body. Some seasonings used in hotpot can help alleviate minor illnesses like colds, sinusitis and headaches.
The most commonly found hotpot in the Malaysian market is ‘Haidilao’ which is a popular hotpot brand founded in the Sichuan Province, China in 1994.
With several franchises in Malaysia, the ‘Haidilao’ instant hotpot came in spicy vegetables, sour and spicy vegetables, tomato chicken, spicy beef, spicy beef tripe, tomato beef and kimchi variations. Apart from hotpot, the brand also releases soup bases for hotpot and instant rice dishes.
With the price ranging from RM21 to RM28, the affordable instant hotpot became a trending sensation, not only in Malaysia but also worldwide.
It is also a quick but delicious alternative from the usual instant noodles. It was like a meal option we never knew we needed.
Apart from the ‘Haidilao’ brand, there is also is the ‘Wei Yan’ brand’s ‘Mao Xue Wang’ — duck blood spicy soup that originated from the Chongqing city of China.
An accidental ingredient stumbled upon back in the olden days, the Chinese believe that eating animal blood can efficiently clean blood vessels, and gives consumers beautiful and glowy skin. Apart from that, it is low in fat and sugar, rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals.
A taste of both
My friends and I recently had a get-together session over instant hotpot. It was something that we had never done before, so we were all looking forward to it.
We bought the ‘Haidilao’ instant hotpot vegetarian flavour and the ‘Wei Yan’ ‘Mao Xue Wang’ to try it out. In our defence, we did not know how to read Chinese despite knowing how to speak, hence we did not know that we bought the spicy duck-blood soup.
It was truly a surprise when we opened the Wei Yan, only to find out it had a block of duck blood in it. And to think we spent RM20 on this box of instant hotpot!
Thankfully, the Wei Yan’s spicy soup was flavourful with a minimal tinge of duck blood taste. (Or the did the tasty flavour came from the blood, which we will never know) We each had a bite of the blood and agreed that despite it tasting like tofu, the thought of it being duck blood was unbearable. Hence, we threw it away.
What’s left was the chewy flat noodles and beansprouts which were both splendid and sumptuous. However, the beansprouts were not like fresh ones, rather it was more crunchy and sweet. We enjoyed it very much.
On the other hand, Haidilao’s self-heating hotpot does not disappoint. We opted for the vegetarian flavour which comprises sliced potatoes, lotus roots, seaweed, vermicelli, and corn.
While the ingredients certainly had traces of preservatives, the soup was delicious. It goes really well with the vermicelli that came with it or with rice.
Overall, it was an exciting experience as we had never thought of a hotpot becoming instant. It was made possible by the innovation of self-heating packs that came together with both hotpots. With just a pour of water, the self-heating packs would sizzle and starts boiling up the hotpot.
The only disadvantage of the hotpot to me is that it gets cold quickly, making it unsuitable for slow eaters who love a hot broth.
Nonetheless, if you’re still reluctant to go out to have a hotpot in restaurants at the moment, I highly recommend that you have a go at this instant hotpot to satisfy your cravings.