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Hot pot is not exactly the healthiest of meals, so the discovery of one that's both delicious and nutritious is something to celebrate. This discovery comes from Asiniuniu, a cavernous restaurant focusing on the culture and cuisine of the Yi ethnic minority. The restaurant's three floors are decorated in traditional Yi style, featuring their signature colors of red, black and yellow.
The Yi people are the seventh largest of China's ethnic minority groups. Asiniuniu is a local brand from Liangshan in Sichuan Province, which has one of the largest populations of Yi people in China. It is also home to a large pine forest, the perfect habitat for wild mushrooms and the inspiration behind their signature mushroom hot pot.
The base of Asiniuniu's hot pot is a rich chicken and mushroom broth, enhanced with goji berries and red dates. Most of the mushrooms on offer are air freighted direct from Sichuan every two to three days. We particularly enjoyed the matsutake (RMB 128, 松茸) and porcini (RMB 58, 牛肝菌) mushrooms, along with slightly more unusual varieties like the "big foot" mushrooms (RMB 58, 大脚菇) and "old man's head" mushrooms (RMB 48, 老人头). All the mushrooms used are prized in Chinese medicine for their positive health effects and high nutritional content.
The wild mushrooms must be simmered for 20 minutes to ensure they are thoroughly cooked (the helpful wait staff will provide a timer). Once the wait is over, fish the mushrooms out and dip them in a potent mix of fresh and dried chilies, Sichuan pepper, coriander, garlic, sesame oil, vinegar and soy.
For a meaty side dish, order up a portion of the smoked duck, whose delicate flesh wouldn't be out of place in a European salad. We also hear good things about their mi xian, made with homemade rice noodles.
More stories by this author here.
Photos: Robynne Tindall, Asiniuniu
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