How do they make the fiery four-alarm broth that serves as the delicious base of the Chinese hot pot? I will admit that before today I have not devoted much curiosity to the question. Usually I spend the first several minutes of a hot pot encounter with my eyes rolled back in my head, then the next several minutes feverishly pursuing a doomed, catastrophically wrong-headed attempt to chase away the escalating pain with more of the same delicious food that got me into this sweaty mess, then the next several hours listening to my stewing innards groan and gurgle ominously, and then eventually a period of time unleashing total hell on an unfortunate toilet. Possibly that's more information than you wanted! Point is, I have never really considered it my business how the broth is made. My role in all this is to feel the burn.
But this video of hot pot broth being made, in genuinely impressive volume, and set to extremely bitchin' action music, rules very hard. You start with what appears to be at least my body weight in beef tallow, and just keep adding and adding until your brew has that tell-tale deep red color of the fiery pits. A wheelbarrow's worth of scallions; two separate batches of ginger; enough dried Tien Tsin peppers to melt iron; enough Sichuan peppercorn to quite literally fill the entire trunk of my car. By the time they start in on the herbs and spices, you cannot help but hoot and holler. That mankind ever came up with this recipe is just very, very inspiring.
Incredible. People who watch this 19 times, as I have, will inevitably notice that the volume apparently increases dramatically between the chili pepper phase (0:35) and the peppercorn phase (0:41). Could that just go down to the volume of chilies added? My God, I hope so. That is both terrifying to consider and also just extremely fuckin' bad-ass. Give me the hell broth.
Perhaps, like me, you're the sort of person who watches this video and feels an overwhelming urge to slurp the hot pot juice. Or, alternately, maybe you dislike intensely spicy food and consider this sort of cuisine far outside of your zone of comfort. That's fine! Maybe you're just not very curious about this kind of thing! Or maybe you watch this video and in short order find yourself thinking Hmm, yes, I would enjoy cooking and devouring my coworker, who is simply minding his own business on an otherwise normal Monday. If that's the case, there's a very good chance you are one of the frankly far too many Defector staffers who were inspired this morning to openly discuss throwing me—me!—into the boiling hot pot, where I would die and my remains would render down to an oily goo, for eating. A delicious oily goo, I'm sure, but this is generally not something you expect or hope to see in your workplace chat:
Barry 9:39 a.m.: Wonder if you could murder Chris with the giant hot potpretty easily, i supposeAlbert 9:39 a.m: i will boil chris in the hot potDavid Roth 9:39 a.m.: Dumping a beaming Chris out of a big bowl into a roiling pot of brothBarry 9:40 a.m.: i wonder what a Chris would do to the flavor
Wherever you stand on the hot pot spectrum—enthusiast, avoider, or homicidal cannibal—surely we can all agree that the man lifting the gigantic bowl full of large quantities of every edible nut, seed, leaf, twig, and bark known to man, and then dumping it into a cresting vat of boiling oil with an astronomical Scoville rating, very much deserves the soaring soundtrack, if not a Nobel Prize. That guy is a true hero.