I had a late introduction to the meal concept of hot pot. I had never eaten it before moving to Calgary and got thrown into the Chinese hotpot season in 2019. In a matter of months, I believe I had gone from never eating hot pot, to eating it 4 or 5 weeks in a row.
I'm not going to lie, it was a bit overwhelming!
This year was different. No family gatherings. No hot pot. So my husband decided he would bring over a stove and make it for me in celebration of finishing the Canadian Dietetic Registration Exam.
Since then, we've had it together multiple times and have perfected our vegan hotpot broth and can give lots of good suggestions for vegetables and protein choices to cook.
For those who have never had hot pot, here is my summary.......... it's Chinese fondue.
You start with a delicious broth. I prefer a clear broth over a creamy stew type broth, but both are delicious.
You wash and prep a TON of fresh vegetables, noodles, varieties of tofu, and (traditionally) a wide variety of meat and seafood. For a list of some of the vegan hot pot options, check out my list below. However, this is not comprehensive and you can also be very creative with hotpot.
You generally need a portable burner to keep the broth boiling while you are eating around a table. For example, a butane stove like this works great!
Once you have your ingredients and stove prepped, the last step is to make a delicious dipping sauce. Your ingredients will pick up a delicious flavor from the broth, but in my opinion, what makes hot pot truly delicious is the soy sauce-based sauce you dip everything into before you eat.
This is where, as a nutritionist, I have to make a special statement. Hot pot in general, even my recipe, is high in sodium due to the nature of the sauces/condiments in use. If you have hypertension, kidney disease, or have been told to reduce or monitor your sodium intake, then you would need to modify even my recipe to have much less soy sauce and vegetable stock as these are both high in sodium.
Nonetheless, if you are safe to consume some sodium without serious health consequences, then I am of the mindset that a little excess sodium here and there likely won't do too much harm.
That's my summary, but it comes nowhere near a good description of the complexity of hot pot styles, flavors, recipes, and so much more.
If you want a more serious breakdown of hot pot, then check out this article from Serious Eats.
Now, onto my recipe!
This recipe was developed for just 2 people but could easily be multiplied to ensure enough for more. Keep the broth the same, but add in more vegetables and make more dipping sauce.
Begin by boiling daikon and dried mushrooms in about 12 cups of water, in a large pot.
Add in Better than Bouillon No Beef Base, some miso paste, and chili oil (if you like things spicy).
Then also wash and prep your veggies, tofu, noodles, and any other ingredients you wish to try. Pictured below is Nappa cabbage, choy sum (I think), enoki and cremini mushrooms, carrots, bok choy, udon noodles, firm tofu, dried bean curd. Not pictured, we had some vegetarian balls that I got from the Chinese grocery store as well.
Then, prepare your dipping sauce. Saute some green onion, garlic, and ginger in a small saucepan. Add in soy sauce, water, oyster, and chili oil if desired and simmer for a few minutes. Divide between 2-3 bowls.
Lastly, start up the burner and place the broth on top. Keep it at a low rolling boil the whole time you are cooking and eating veggies, tofu, etc.
IF YOU DON'T HAVE A BURNER: you could add a lot of veggies/ingredients and boil them over the stove. Once they are cooked, bring and eat at the table. When depleted, you can return the pot to the stove and cook more ingredients, and then return it to the table to pull out and eat everything. Just make sure the ingredients are cooked through as they generally will take different times (bean curd takes MUCH longer, just an FYI).
Hot pot is very flexible. You can customize it to your preferences. You can use it to try new fun dark green leafy vegetables, or stick to more familiar items like noodles and mushrooms. Make it your own. But, I recommend this combo of broth and sauce, as it makes both my husband and I's bellies VERY HAPPY.
Take a looksie at the full recipe here:
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