Now that autumn has come to an end and the winter months have settled down for a short while, us poor devils have to do all that we can to prevent ourselves from succumbing to the frostbite. An exaggeration, I know, but nevertheless, the Chinese Hot Pot is a real cockle warmer and the perfect antidote for a bad case of the winter blues.
First things first: What is a Hot Pot?
For the complete newbies to China, a Hot Pot is a popular dish throughout much of Asia, but especially in China. This saucy little dish, less commonly known as a 'Chinese steamboat', is characterised by its 'cook it yourself' style and its communal dining experience. Hot Pots vary depending on where you are in China and whether or not you, or the establishment you're eating at, are traditionalists.
More traditional establishments serve Hot Pots in large copper vessels which are surrounded by a deep basin that holds a flavoursome broth. This broth is then heated by hot coals from within the central chimney. A selection of foods, including sliced meats, fish and vegetables can then be put into the simmering broth and left to cook, creating a tasty delicacy.
Nowadays, Hot Pots are more commonly served in large pots and are heated on either a gas burning stove or an electric stove in the centre of a table. One thing remains the same though: whatever the fashion of cooking, they're brilliant for group dining and a social get together.
The sages behind the speciality
Some claim that the Hot Pot originated in Mongolia and became popular throughout China during the expansion of the Mongol Empire. These historical claims are perhaps debatable though, and whilst I'm sure that all the great Chinese historians are sat up late at night pulling their hair out trying to piece together the in demand truth of the history of the popular Hot Pot, I will worry no more.
Hot Pot pick 'n' mix
What is more interesting, though, is that different provinces have adapted individual Hot Pot styles; the most famous being the Sichuan, Chongqing Hot Pot.
Within these cauldrons of spicy magic – which could well leave you crying or melt your face – is a broth of an assortment of herbs and spices, often including the fearsome Sichuan peppercorn as well as an abundance of chilli pepper. With just the correct amount of Sichuan peppercorn in your Hot Pot, you have yourself a satisfying tingle. With the Sichuan amount of Sichuan peppercorn, you have yourself a local anaesthetic so strong you'll be accidentally chewing on your tongue for the next twelve hours.
Nowadays, it has become increasingly popular to have a Hot Pot served in a bowl with a metal divide in the middle. One half can then be filled with a chilli broth, the other with a mild chicken, pork or beef bone broth.
There are many other types too, including the Beijing Hot Pot, the Mongolian Hot Pot, and many varieties of seafood Hot Pot which are particularly popular in the Guangdong province. Anyway, without boring you with a monotonous list, let's get to the good bit: eating one!
Eating a Hot Pot in Hangzhou
There are plenty of restaurants in Hangzhou serving a good Hot Pot, but my favourite is Chuan Wei Guan (川味观) at 109 West Wensan Road (文三西路109号). Here you sit at thick marble tables with a gas stove fitted into the centre. You then choose your broth and ingredients, fortunately, from a menu with plenty of pictures.
At this point, I wish I could give you an all-encompassing Hot Pot pearl of wisdom to aid you in your pursuit of the perfect Hot Pot, but I can't. Almost any ingredient can be put into a Hot Pot, so the selection of ingredients to go into the broth totally depends upon the taste of the individual. I do have some advice though: put all the ingredients you want to eat in together so that they all cook at approximately the same time, and as a general rule of thumb, when the food floats, it's ready to eat. So my friends tell me anyway.
The adventurous Hot Potter!
If you're keen to learn how to make some Chinese cuisine, or perhaps want to impress overseas family and friends by cooking up a Chinese classic, then here are a few titbits to help you along the way.
First of all, it would be handy to buy yourself a large pot, or even a wok, and a portable electric stove. Alternatively, you can buy yourself what's called a 'Shabu Shabu Hot Pot Stove'. Although it's not of Chinese origin, it's a very useful all-in-one Hot Pot kitchen appliance.
Next up, is how to make the broth, which is lucky, as I have one perfect recipe, and one perfect shortcut. Let's start with the shortcut, shall we? Well, first, head on down to your local supermarket and invest in a packet mix which particularly tickles your taste buds, and then simply stir the contents into hot water. Job done. Now for the long, but rewarding path to either a mild or a spicy bone broth. Sorry vegetarians.
First, you need a full chicken and several pig bones. Chop your chicken into large chunks and then put them both into a pot of simmering water to cook out the blood. Afterwards, drain them, and rinse them with warm water. Next, place them back into a pot of water with slices of ginger, chopped carrot, tomato slices, and large sections of spring onion. Finally, add 3 teaspoons of salt, and then bring the water to the boil. Then, turn down the heat and allow it to simmer for 40 minutes to one hour. This is your mild bone broth. From here, you're free to remove the bones if you like. Afterwards, add the ingredients you desire to your Hot Pot.
To make this into a spicy broth, stir fry plenty of garlic and ginger for a couple of minutes before adding a healthy amount of dou ban jiang (豆瓣酱) – which will also be available at your local supermarket – and fry until it produces a pungent smell. Finally, fry plenty of dried chilli pepper, fennel, star anise, and if you're feeling brave, some Sichuan peppercorns. Add it all to your pot, and afterwards, get your ingredients bathing in that bad boy!
Happy Hot Potting everyone!
For the 12th consecutive year, the Expat Show Shanghai is back for the delight of families.
Expatriates or locals, the Expat Show Shanghai will meet all your daily needs.
Shanghai is a cosmopolitan city, the whole world is represented here. However, creating your network, meeting new people, or simply keeping up to date with new businesses (services and products) can sometimes be complicated by the vastness of this city.
That's why the three days Expat Show brings together in one place everything you need. Thus, foodies will find their happiness within the "Food & Beverage Area" created in partnership with Sherpa's ; various tastings organised will fulfil wine, beer, and cocktail lovers dreams; families will not be left behind with stands dedicated to tourism, education, health but also to investment and finance.
Activities for young and adult visitors will be organized inside a dedicated space, and a relaxation area awaits all visitors for moments of exchange over a drink or a coffee.
The members of the associations (non-profit, charities, Chambers of Commerce...) will also be there to present their activities and why not, soon, count you among their members.
GET TOGETHER COCKTAIL
This year, a big new feature!
The Expat Show is pleased to invite you to its "Get Together Cocktail".
In the Shanghai Exhibition Center, you are expected on Saturday, September 21st, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on the Relaxing Area.
Wine, spirits and cocktails tasting with appetizers provided by our sponsors, will be an opportunity to share a pleasant moment.
Participation is free of charge and our generous sponsors have prepared many gifts for you. Come and try your luck! Games, trips, gifts are to be won!
SEE YOU ON SEPTEMBER 20TH AT 10AM!
This year the Mid-Autumn Festival, or Moon Festival, falls on September 13th. This is the 2nd most important festival in China, after the Chinese New Year/Spring Festival blow out extravaganza. The Mid-Autumn Festival is a harvest festival that coincides with the autumnal equinox and marks the end of the summer harvest season, and its date varies from year to year because the Chinese can’t seem to let go of the Lunar Calendar. Of course, they’ve seen silverware too, but Jerry Seinfeld already did that bit.
Like everything else here, the history of the Mid-Autumn Festival dates all the way back, 3,000 years, to the Shang Dynasty, when the powerful sorcerer Lo Pan broke the curse of immortality by marrying a girl with green eyes…no, wait, that was the plot to Big Trouble in Little China. Here’s the real one, according to legend (or, Wikipedia, if you want to be a jerk about it):
“Chang'e and her husband Houyi were immortals living in heaven. One day, the ten sons of the Jade Emperor transformed into ten suns and scorched the Earth. Having failed to order his sons to stop ruining the Earth, the Jade Emperor summoned Houyi for help. Houyi, using his legendary archery skills, shot down nine of the sons, but spared one son (who conveniently became the Sun). The Jade Emperor was obviously not pleased with Houyi's solution to save the Earth as it involved Houyi murdering nine of his sons. As punishment, the Jade Emperor banished Houyi and Chang'e to live as mere mortals on Earth.
Seeing how miserable Chang'e felt over her loss of immortality, Houyi decided to go on a long, perilous quest to find the pill of immortality so that the couple could become immortal again. At the end of his quest he met the Queen Mother of the West who agreed to give him the pill, but warned him that each person needs only half the pill to become immortal.
Houyi brought the pill home and stored it in a case. He warned Chang'e not to open the case and then left home for a while. Like every other woman in the history of the world, she didn’t listen. She opened up the case and found the pill just as Houyi was returning home. Nervous Houyi would catch her fiddling with the pill, she swallows the whole thing like a stooge and starts to float into the sky because of the overdose. Although Houyi could have used his wicked archery skills to shoot her and tether her down, he couldn’t bear to do it and Chang'e kept on floating until she landed on the moon.
Although Chang’e missed her husband dearly, she wasn’t alone. She did have company of a jade rabbit that manufactured elixirs, and that of the lumberjack Wu Gang. The lumberjack offended the gods in his attempt to achieve immortality and was therefore banished to the moon. Wu Gang was allowed to leave the moon if he could cut down a tree that grew there. The problem was that each time he chopped it down; it would instantly grow back, effectively condemning him to live on the moon for eternity. Gods are tricky that way.”
So to commemorate this story, as well as the end of the harvest season, people throughout China gather their families together to catch up while eating moon cakes (discussed in more detail later) and pomelo. They also light lanterns to adorn their homes, temples, and even the sky. This last kind of lantern, called a, “sky lantern,” is really quite cool. They’re basically an ornate box kite that’s lit with a candle, but when they’re launched, after night fall, they make for a beautiful, candlelit sky. Add to this luminescence that of the full round moon and you’ve got yourself the makings of one festive evening. It’s also the perfect occasion to pull out your old Neil Young albums (namely Harvest and Harvest Moon) and rock out.
Alternate Uses for Moon Cakes:
Let’s face it; the moon cake is the fruitcake of China. No one actually wants them (other than for re-gifting purposes). They’re just the gift you give people to let them know how little you care for them. For the person on the receiving end, it’s really a slap in the face. The giver of said crap cakes gets to slide by on the kindness of the gesture, while you’ve got to work up a smile, and pretend to appreciate what is in essence, an empty, backhanded act of passive aggression. Giving someone moon cakes is the same as saying, “I’ve nothing but contempt for you, but I do plan on knocking you up for a favor in the next couple weeks, so try not to choke.” But all’s not lost because moon cakes can serve many other functions besides pissing all over the definition of cake. So as those decorative boxes of banality from all your condescending know-nothing colleagues at work pile up in your home, don’t think about how drunk you’re going to have to get to choke them all down. Get creative. Think like Martha Stewart, or just keep reading and use some of the ideas we’ve come up with. It’s a good thing.
Stabilize that wobbly chair or coffee table
One of the nice things about a cake that’s got the density of a brake pad is that it can endure a sizeable amount of force without breaking apart. That makes it one of the best materials to use to support that bothersome short leg on your table, chair, or bar stool. It also won’t scuff up your hardwood floors.
Serves as a fantastic replacement puck for ice or street hockey
Thanks to the moon cakes stout, cylindrical design, (It’s called, yeast, you a-holes! It’s what makes baked goods fluffy and delicious. Stop living in the past.), it has, not only the same shape as a standard ice hockey puck, but also, almost, the exact same dimensions. So here’s what you do. Take a box of these abominations and throw them in the freezer for a couple hours while you gather the gang for a good old fashion game of street hockey, or take them down to the skating rink at the MixC Mall and have at it.
Give to the needy
This is just to prove our point that these shit snacks are universally reviled. Go up to a homeless person asking for money and give them a box of these bastards instead, and see if you don’t get pegged in the back of the head with one as gratitude for your selfless gesture.
Protect yourself from stray dogs
It’s late and you’re stumbling out of the bar after a few too many with your buddies. Your senses are impaired, as is your sense of direction. You find yourself alone, walking down a dark street when you spot a mongrel dog that has shown an interest in you. You’re too drunk to outrun it, and it’s the only thing between you and your warm bed. What do you do? You pull out the moon cakes that some jackanapes forced on you and you force them right into the dog’s mouth. Like peanut butter on their nose, this should keep it occupied for at least 10 minutes, giving you plenty of time to make a staggering escape.
Whip at motorists who don't obey the traffic laws
How many times have you been on your bike, or in a taxi, and you’ve almost been killed by some motorist who thinks the rules don’t apply to them? If you’ve been here a week it’s happened at least once. Don’t lie to us. Of course, you want to throw something at them, but all you have handy is your cell phone and/or wallet and, obviously, you can’t throw those. Moon cakes combine the heft of a billiard ball with the softness of a dessert you’d still pass on in a hostage situation. You make your point, no damage to the target’s car, but the message was received. Everyone wins.
Earmuffs in the winter
Get creative this winter and be the first one on your block to chase away the chills with some homemade, moon cake earmuffs. All you need is a needle, some decorative, elastic yarn, 2 moon cakes (one for each ear) and a microwave. Cut 5 lengths of yarn at a measure of one and half times the circumference of your head. Work the yarn through the moon cakes laterally (through the sides). Adjust the position of the cakes so that each one rests comfortably over each ear, with your lengths of yarn going around your head like a sweat band. When you’ve got them positioned how you like them, tie the ends of your yarn together to ensure a snug fit around your cabeza. When you’re ready to hit the town, throw your stylish new earmuffs in the microwave for 30 seconds and prepare to laugh derisively at Old Man Winter.
Haze the new guy
Like snake wine and unicycles, moon cakes serve no purpose. They do, however, work well for gags, especially when the new guy in your office starts getting a little too big for his britches. Knock him down a peg, and remind him of his place by challenging his manhood with a moon cake eating contest. Basically, you just tell him that it’s a rite of passage we’ve all gone through and if he can’t eat 10 moon cakes in 10 minutes, no one will respect him. Whether or not he finishes them is beside the point. The point is, no one else is going to eat these things and they’re starting to take up space.
And there you have it. Seven great ways to get rid of your moon cakes, when re-gifting is simply not an option, but by no means, are these the only ways. Get creative and think up some yourself. You like building models? Build yourself a 1/10 scale trebuchet and see how far you can wing them. Or give them to kids. They’ll put anything in their mouths. Happy Mid-Autumn Festival, everybody!
Qiantang River tidal bore is one the largest tidal bores in the world which reaches the most spectacular on the eighteenth day of the eight month on Chinese lunar calendar. To watch the 9-meter tidal waves, you can choose the best locations in Haining city, about 50 kilometers from Hangzhou.
2019 Qiantang River International Surfing Competition will be held from Sept.11th to 16th, during which the Qiantang River tides are surging frighteningly high in the year.
Opening ceremony (about 40 minutes)
Time: 3:30pm - 4:10pm, September 12th
Location: Qiantang Farm 钱唐农园 (江干区5号港路)
Qiantang River International Surfing Competition (4 days)
Time: September 13th - 16th (13th-15th: preliminaries, 16th: finals and closing ceremony).
Venue: Qianjiang No.9 Bridge to No.1 Bridge (Qiantang River Bridge) 钱江九桥至钱江一桥(钱塘江大桥)
Closing Ceremony Location: Qiantang Farm 钱唐农园 (江干区5号港路)
Teams: 9 teams (China, Australia, Spain, South Africa, Brazil, California, France, Indonesia and Puerto Rico)
Surfing Carnival (5 days)
Time: 10:30am - 4:30pm, September 12th - 16th
Location: Qiantang Farm 钱唐农园 (江干区5号港路)
What to expect: There will be four surf theme carnival activities: water rafting, surfing pool, surfing culture exhibition, surfing board teaching, as well as magical spider wall, frisbee, bowling and many other activities.
Qiantang Music Festival (1 day)
Time: 6:30pm - 8:30pm, Saturday, September 14th
Location: Garden Lawn at Qiantang Farm 钱唐农园大草坪 (江干区5号港路)
The referee of Qiantang River International Surfing Competition, Peter Towndend is the first World Surfing Champion and the former coach of China National Surfing Team.
Nine teams from home and abroad will surf on the so-called “Silver Tides” from Sept. 13th to 16th. World top surfers, Dean Morrison, Eneko Acero, Kyle McGeary and Made Garut Widiarta will participate in the event.
Dean Morrison, who is the champion of Australia and European Division of World Men's Shortboard Surfing Championship Tour. He is one of the most celebrated Australian surfers of the modern era, finishing a career best ninth in 2007. In the water Dean is a pocket dynamo, known for his compact, fluid style and sublime cutback. On land his humility and good nature ensure he is the kind of pro surfer who is approachable for people from all walks of life.
Eneko Acero, one of the most important and influential surfers of Spain and Europe. At that time it was just him on a worldwide tour with surfers from all over the place but his hometown/country. Still today, Eneko is surfing in a daily basis, manages a team of an international brand and of course proudly holds the surname Acero, a surfing family you might heard of from him, his older brother Iker Acero or the charismatic Kepa Acero.
Kyle McGeary, Team (NSSA) champion surfer, he is an underground local surfer from Huntington Beach, California. "Never heard of Kyle? Then you probably don't surf the pier, because if you did, you'd see him hucking big rotators everyday."
Made Garut Widiarta, born and raised in Kuta he started surfing at the age of 9 at his home break Half Ways, Garut is one of the most recognizable Indonesian surfers in the world and he has received more high profile attention in the media than any Indonesian surfer since Rizal Tanjung. Is name is I Made Widiarta a.k.a Garut.
The top local surfers will also participate on behalf of Chinese National Surfing Team. Surfing in the Qiantang River has only been allowed since 2008. During the competition, surfers will follow the tidal bore in motorboats and jet skis, and then take turns riding the waves.
Surfing will be included in the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. The inclusion has given a boost to the sport in China, where it remains relatively new.
Hangzhou government hopes the competition can further promote the sport among citizens, especially the youth.
The competition will be broadcast nationwide by China Central Television.
On Saturday, September 7th, 2019, Hangzhou International School held their Annual Welcome Back Barbecue and once again gathered the HIS community, parents, students and teachers, they had an opportunity to welcome the new families and to catch up with the old friends while enjoying themselves, the tasty food, and the activities provided.
MORE’s editor Loren was fortunately enough to be invited, while it was initially a little foreign to him—not having kids going to the school, not being a Binjiang-er—his years of being in Hangzhou felt like they finally paid off, and he bumped into a good cross-section of international folk he has known for a while now.
The food was predictably excellent, with burgers from returning favorite Slim’s one of the queues we had to try, but also present was the Indian faire from Pita’s and Tika’s and pizza from Angelo’s.
The kids had a great time too, with musical and dance performances, face painting and candy.
We had a great time talking to some new and returning teachers, eager to get the new school year fully underway, and had a great time talking about the crafts of teaching and parenting, as well as the sense of community that HIS brings to its families and faculty who come together from more than 50 nations to make events like this fun and engaging. We are looking forward to continue having a great school year!
Looking for fresh and imported products from a source you can trust? Why not take advantage of Epermarket’s new and improved delivery service (now upgraded from 3 days to 7 days a week)? When ordering online, you can pick all the high-quality items you love and have them delivered to your door at on a day that suits you!
If you’re not available at a specific time of the day when your order arrives, you can always select, “Leave my Order at the Door” option, so you can feel safe in the knowledge that your fresh and frozen items will be carefully stored for you in cooler and carton boxes upon your arrival.
Ordering online at Epermarket couldn’t be easier—they have a wide range of hard-to-find products to choose from. Did we mention they have over 5000 imported products as well? And all their fresh groceries are packed on the day they are delivered, so you can be assured of the best quality hand-picked items.
What else is new at Epermarket?
Their Wine Fair promotion! This exclusive wine sale is coming up and will include classic beverages from some of the finest wine regions in the world. From Chablis to Prosecco and Rosé, you can find over 100 wines to dive into and enjoy in the comfort of your home. These wines will be on sale from up to 40% off, starting from September 10th, so keep your eyes peeled for more at www.epermarket.com.
New to Epermarket? Simply scan the QR code to register and get 50RMB off your first order!
Offer is valid until Friday, the 13th September.
Find out more about other promotions when you visit their website Epermarket.com!
The idea behind Epermarket has always been simple: a place for internationals to buy the food they love, from a source they can trust. They place quality and safety first, with all products curated by professionals, all passionate about food and living a healthy life. Whether you are looking for fresh fruit and organic vegetables, pantry favorites or even home care products, Epermarket has everything you need.
Get Weekly Events to your Mailbox