China News Service Cangzhou, December 12 (Xinhua) -- Hot pot chicken in Qingxian County, Hebei Province: A century-old spicy taste by the canal

Author: Wang Tianyi, Li Shumei

To a certain extent, hot pot chicken is the "overlord" of the taste buds of people in Qingxian County, Cangzhou, Hebei Province. Whether it is a small gathering of friends, entertaining relatives and friends, or simply satisfying cravings, hot pot chicken has an unshakable "status in the rivers and lakes" in the eyes of Qingxian people. Even if you have exhausted thousands of sails and tasted all kinds of flavors, if you sandwich a piece of oily, spicy and fragrant chicken in the red oil soup tumbling under the charcoal fire of a copper pot, dip it in garlic sweet vinegar, and sweat spicy, you will always burst out of a sentence: "This is the taste of eating!" ”

On October 10, in a hot pot chicken restaurant in Qingxian County, Cangzhou, Hebei Province, the chef was stir-frying hot pot chicken. Photo by Xue Qiang

With its unique style of "soft and tender chicken, spicy and fragrant, and endless aftertaste", hot pot chicken has a somewhat "maverick" taste in the hot pot industry such as beef and mutton. It is made of three yellow chickens as ingredients, Pixian bean paste, red and green peppercorns, garlic, various chili peppers, etc., and then cooked and stewed with dozens of auxiliary ingredients.

"Our red and green peppercorns are all airlifted from Sichuan, and there are seven or eight kinds of peppers alone." In the Beyond Hot Pot Chicken Main Store, before the meal is ordered, the hall is full of people. 14 years ago, Huang Chao, who took over the hot pot chicken restaurant from his father, skillfully stir-fried chicken up and down by the steaming stove, and told a reporter from China News Service that the selection of hot pot chicken is very important, and any small ingredient is related to the success or failure of hot pot chicken.

With its unique style of "soft and tender chicken, spicy and fragrant, and endless aftertaste", hot pot chicken has a somewhat "maverick" taste in the hot pot industry such as beef and mutton. Photo by Xue Qiang

"Many customers recognize tastes, and we can't say who makes it delicious, everyone has different tastes." Huang Chao believes that if "there are a thousand Hamlets in the eyes of a thousand people", then "there are a thousand different flavors of hot pot chicken in the eyes of a thousand Qingxian people".

"Speaking of each hot pot chicken, different masters have their own Chinese herbal medicine packages in their hands, plus experience, techniques, and accessories, which are the core of determining the taste." As a "post-80s" Dong Run is the fourth-generation inheritor of the cooking skills of the county-level intangible cultural heritage of Qingxian County, Liuhe "Dong Family Unique" hot pot chicken cooking skills, he runs the ancestral inheritance in Liuhe Town, Qingxian County, with a long history and an authentic "Dong Family Unique" hot pot chicken restaurant among the local population.

"How to choose the best ingredients, how many pieces to chop a chicken, the heat of the stir-fried ingredients, and the time to stew the chicken." Dong Run said that there are thousands of hot pot chickens and thousands of flavors, but everything is the same. Although the taste is constantly changing, and there are new flavors such as "fragrant jade rattan pepper" and "fashionable tomato", for those of them who have been stir-frying chicken in their teens, "authentic spicy" is the original "ancient taste" of hot pot chicken. "My great-grandfather is a villager in Liuhe Town, Qingxian County, and he has studied the predecessor of my family's fried chicken method little by little."

Hebei Cangzhou Qingxian hot pot chicken. Photo by Xue Qiang

Hot pot chicken is also a delicacy that arose because of the canal. "Our village hot pot chicken has a history of more than 30 years." Liu Zijiang, a native of Liuhe Town, Qingxian County, and an elderly man in the town and village, said, "At the end of the Qing Dynasty, we built a barracks here, and at that time, some Manchus brought a boiler from the palace, <> centimeters high, about the same as a barrel-shaped hot water bottle. Put it in a charcoal brazier, with smoke in the middle, and put water and spices, salt, and chili peppers to shabu mutton, chicken, fish, and vegetables. ”

The prosperity of those days is gone, but the story behind the memory of the bend in the canal is still fascinating. "At that time, there were many southerners living in Renhe Town, and southerners loved spicy food, and gradually there was a spicy hot pot chicken. Later, people felt that doing hot pot business was also a way to make money, so everyone in the town would make hot pot chicken, and each household had its own practice, and each household had its own taste. Inheriting the hot pot chicken skills of the ancestors, it also helps more people to make a fortune. Wang Qingan, vice president of the Cangzhou Grand Canal Cultural Research Association, said.

"All over the country, all over the world, there are too many people who come to learn the craft, and I can't remember it." The owners of several hot pot chicken restaurants say so. As long as it is hot pot chicken, it is learned from Renhe and the town, and the learned shops teach others, and how many families have mastered the skills of hot pot chicken can no longer be tested. But whether it is oral transmission or visiting the source, the cooking skills of hot pot chicken have become one of the proudest topics in this small village and even Qingxian County.

"It's spicy, don't be sweet!" "No. 17 turned over the table, and the guests were ready!" "The food ordered by Meituan can be delivered!" ...... Now, in addition to the traditional old brand of hot pot chicken restaurants in Qingxian County, the cutting-edge hot pot chicken restaurants have also quickly seized part of the market share, and the young people at the helm of the store are better at studying the preferences of new consumer groups and paying more attention to brand marketing. "Non-GMO cooking oil and bottled purified water", central kitchen, gift box set, e-commerce online store... Dai Ying, the owner of 0317 hot pot chicken restaurant, said: "One is taste, the other is feelings, and it must be blessed by the marketing team, which is the true knowledge that comes out of our store practice." (ENDS)