“Sharing a hotpot can eliminate all the frustrations of life. If it does not succeed, try again with another hotpot,” is a popular saying in China. An authentic Chinese hotpot is always a good choice when going out with friends during a weekend. To me, it is one of the most social of culinary treats, because everyone gets to share and enjoy the food together.
On Oct. 11th, Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School Campus Advisors organized an abundant beef hotpot dinner for international students. We went to a famous chain restaurant called Baheli Haiji Beef Hotpot (八合里海记牛肉火锅).
If you go to a popular location, be prepared to wait! This year, Baheli is on Dazhong Dianping’s Must Eats of Shenzhen. This is a highly regarded list by China’s most used restaurant review app for the highest-rated places to eat by local residents, especially young people!
This variety of hotpot comes from the famous culinary region of Chaoshan, Guangdong in Southern China. Unless you are a true hotpot connoisseur, you may not have heard of this kind of hotpot before, but its popularity is exploding in China and beyond. Unlike Sichuan hotpot, which is famed for its spicyness, Chaoshan Beef hotpot is not spicy or greasy. It is actually quite light in taste and healthy.
As you’ve probably guessed, it relies heavily on beef as the main meat ingredient. Because the flavors are lighter, there is even greater emphasis on quality of food, especially the beef. True Chaoshan Beef hotpot restaurants will serve fresh beef that is from farm to customer in 24 hours or less.
Because Chaoshan beef hotpot pays attention to the original flavor of food and the fresh and sweet beef, there are not many choices on the soup base to choose from. Generally, the soup base is beef bone cooked with clear water with some white radish and corn inside.
We ordered some vegetables like needle mushrooms（金针菇）and Bean curd sheet rolls（腐竹）and throw all these yummy ingredients inside. Of course, eating thin sliced beef is the most important part. Here we have the opportunity to eat many parts of beef. Timing is really important, don’t leave the meat in pot for too long as it will be overcooked and become chewy.
嫩肉(nenrou)：the meat is tender and slightly chewy. It is recommended to cook for 6-8 seconds.
三花趾和五花趾 (sanhua and wuhua zhi): Beef leg meat, the difference between the two is whether the lines on the meat are three or five tendons. This part of the meat is very bouncy and tough. Cooking 8-10 seconds tastes best.
匙柄和匙仁(shibing and shiren): a cow only has two “spoon handles”. After slicing it, there will be a distinct rib pattern in the middle like a key handle. It tastes very crisp. The ribeye is sweeter and tender. The recommended cooking time of these two parts is 8 seconds.
脖仁(boren)：it is a piece of meat on the neck of a cow with marble-like lines, accounting for only 1% of a whole cow. After cooking 4-6 seconds, it tastes very fresh, sweet and crisp.
吊龙伴和吊龙(diaolongban and diaolong):diaolong is a long strip of meat on the back of a cow. Diaolongban is the small part of the meat under the diaolong. This part of meat is slightly thick, but not fat, very smooth and sweet. It tastes best after cooking about 8 seconds.
胸口捞(xiongkoulao)：it is a very precious part of a cow. It’s chewy but not greasy. This part of meat will be more crisp if cooked longer. But no more than 2 minutes.
If sliced beef does not meet your expectations for an abundant hotpot, you can also try beef meat balls. Chaoshan hotpot is well known for its beef meat balls. To achieve this juicy and chewy texture, the beef is beaten more than a thousand times before being made into a meat ball. As expected, the beef meat ball is fresh, tender and elastic like a “ping pong” ball, much more dense than a Western meat ball.
The dish juicy beef meat balls is loved by most hotpot fans, as we can enjoy the chewy meat and the delicious juices inside of the ball. Though be cautious when you eat a juicy beef ball as it could be quite hot inside.
However, don’t forget to pair them with delicious sauces before you gorge yourself on the food. There is a self-help sauce station in the restaurant where you can mix your own sauces to dip your food with. Dipping with sauces is definitely a must when eating Chaoshan beef hotpot. The dipping sauces are tasty and can be assembled according to your taste from a sort of build-your-own-sauce buffet. Satay sauce (a special sauce from Chaoshan with fish and shrimp) is strongly recommended.
Many locations throughout Shenzhen. We went to the new one at University Town Metro Station!
Address: 留仙大道4168号众冠时代广场L4层 (益田假日里)
On the fourth floor of the YITIAN JIARILI Mall
Price: about 70 RMB per person
Written by Daisy Xia