Cryska & Me: Taiwanese Ma La Tang (麻辣燙)

Cryska thinks it's too spicy! This can't be healthy for you Kryska!!!
Cryska thinks it’s too spicy! This can’t be healthy for you Kryska!!!

^ The table is a mess and I don’t care.

Anyways, today let’s touch on something more of a local fad in Taiwan. Ask any Taiwanese, any real Taiwanese, and they will tell you “Ma La Tang” / 麻辣燙 is the bomb. For those of you without any Asian background, Ma La Tang (MLT) in Chinese roughly translates to “spicy hotpot”. Instead of your traditional hot pot where you add ingredients while you cook, MLT ingredients are cooked all-together for roughly 5-10 minutes, where the ingredients you select will become cooked and filled with the “spicy oil” that makes up a majority of the soup base.

If you order one of each kind, your wallet will cry...and so might your anus.
If you order one of each kind, your wallet will cry…and so might your anus.

The ingredients you can add are essentially the EXACT same kind that you can get for hot pot. In fact, the only real difference is just the fact that MLT can be spicy as hell and everything is cooked together for only a short while. However, the spicyness of MLT cannot be replicated with just any “spicy hotpot” mixture. Typically spicy hotpot is made with a mildly spiced soup that’s based on either chicken or pork broth. However, with MLT, it’s just pretty much chili oil and “maybe” a light soup base.

Of course, there’s varying levels of spiciness, but honestly, if you can’t even handle the most basic of spices, you’re probably better off never trying this. In fact, it would just be a big waste of money. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the price of MLT is quite steep. Not exactly your average meal cost if you can’t pony upwards of NTD 200 per meal. Obviously, the more ingredients you order, the price will be higher. Consequently, if you order “meat”-ier ingredients, it will also start stacking up prices.

Anyways, if you guys are in Taiwan or Szechuan (where MLT is actually from), I urge you to try MLT for yourself. Undoubtedly, try it at lower spice levels so you don’t destroy your rectum for later meals. If you can’t really handle spicy food, but you yearn to try this, then I’d probably prescribe a healthy serving of milk tea before, during, and after the meal. You’re going to need it.

-Kryska

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