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The Biggest Steamboat
in the World

19 October 2006

Chongqing has the reputation of being one of three furnaces in China for its steamingly hot weather in summertime. And it also has a reputation of producing, arguably, the best steamingly hot pot (steamboat) during cooling seasons.

Now as cooling season creeps in, so does the steamboat, but with a big show.

Last weekend on the opening day of the city’s annual steamboat festival, over 100,000 people sat at 1,000 tables in the Chongqing street busily dipping their chopsticks in hot pots.

The biggest hot pot in the world (天下第一锅)

Measuring 76 metres in length, it is certainly the longest steamboat in the world which was shared by 300 people at the evening.

Typical steamboat consists of a simmering pot of stock with the heat source coming from underneath. Food are cooked at the table and eat with dipping sauces.

Ingredients of steamboat normally include thinly sliced mutton, beef, port and fish, meatballs, fishballs, prawns, egg dumplings, rice noodle, green bean noodle, tofu and variety of vegetables.

The earlier and more authentic steamboat used an earthen pot that was heated with charred wood, which gives strong natural aroma. Nowadays a metal pot on a portable gas or electric stove is more common.

Based on the different flavours of the stock, the steamboat can be categorised into different styles. Below are some most popular ones:

Hot Hot Pot (麻辣锅)

Obviously, it’s very hot. A Sichuan style that blends chilli and other strong spices into the stock, which brings a robust flavour to the food.

Yin Yang Pot (鸳鸯锅)

As the name has suggested, it offers a duel presentation: A pot divided into tow parts, one being hot with chilli (red stock 红汤), another mild in taste (white stock白汤), which is ideal for catering different preferences.

Water Pot (清锅)

Ingredients are cooked in boiling water that adds no spice or flavour, so the original texture and aroma of the food can be better appreciated. This is a reflective Canton style.

Wine Pot (醉鸡锅)

From one extreme to another, this is a drunken style of Canton. The flavour and nutritious value of the stock is enhanced with chicken, wine and Chinese medicinal materials.

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