There’s nothing better than a warm vegetarian hot pot meal when the weather gets cold. It’s a welcome break from routine dinners and is a fantastic meal. Moreover, it is an easy, comforting meal to make, especially during cold seasons.
What is Hot Pot?
A hot pot is a Chinese method of cooking where a simmering pot of soup is prepared at the dining table. Hot pot typically features a variety of Chinese foodstuffs and ingredients waiting to be cooked and a flavorful broth. The broth, the main center of the dish, is brought to a boil and is left simmering throughout the meal.
Raw ingredients are placed in the simmering broth to cook. Hot pot is considered a main course during a meal. Typical hot pot ingredients include mushrooms, tofu, potatoes, and leafy vegetables. Seafood and egg dumplings are also a part of hot pots.
These ingredients must be sliced thinly to allow uniform and thorough cooking. The primary stock is made with water, spices, and salt. Condiments vary, but you can use cilantro, soy sauce, scallion, garlic, sesame oil, chili oil, white pepper, shacha sauce, minced ginger, vinegar, etc.
Can Hot Pot Be Vegetarian?
Yes, it can! Typically, hot pots include ingredients of animal products, but you should not be missing out just because you became vegetarian. All you have to do is substitute the meat and animal product components for vegan alternatives. Usually, there are many plant-based ingredients in the hot pot, so it’s not so difficult.
How to Prepare Vegetarian Hot Pot
A vegetarian hot pot consists of two essential things: the broth and the ingredients to be cooked. While it is an easy meal to make, a hot pot requires some preparation ahead of time. You can decide to make the broth earlier and reheat it when you’re ready to serve. Or you can go with the norm and start your broth from scratch just before serving.
Make Your Broth
Preparing the broth is relatively easy as it doesn’t need much preparation. First, you saute your aromatics (like chili oil, basil, cilantro, scallions, garlic) and vegetables to bring out the flavors. Then cover it up with water and bring it to a boil. Let simmer so everything will cook together nicely.
Prepare The Add-Ins
While your broth is simmering away, you can prepare the add-ins that would be used at the table. That includes washing, cutting, and slicing vegetables and vegan protein alternatives. Vegetables like mushrooms, bean sprouts, onions, carrots, and baby potatoes need to be cut into bite sizes. You can substitute meat alternatives like tofu, tempeh, vegan sausages, or vegan chicken in the hot pot.
Prepare The Sides
If you’re going with noodles or dumplings, you would want to cook them and rinse them under cold water.
Make The Table
Place a portable gas burner in the center of the table. Place the pot of broth over it to allow it to simmer on low heat.
Arrange The Raw Ingredients
You can organize the raw ingredients in different bowls around the hot pot to allow for people to make their pick.
Each person can make their pick of raw ingredients and add them to the hot pot. Allow it to simmer for a couple of minutes to cook before transferring it to their plates. You can add noodles, vegetables, and plant-based protein to your dish. You can also add some of that flavorful broth and enjoy.
Vegetarian Suggestions for Hot Pot
The great thing about hot pots is the creative freedom to choose what you want on your plate. It is important to pick and combine ingredients with complementary flavors and textures. This makes it not just delicious but fun.
Tofu and Tofu Products
Tofu is such a versatile ingredient in hot pots. They come in different textures and flavors, making them a delight. Tofus absorb flavor in the broth nicely and are a great choice as they’re vegan-friendly. You can easily get them at any Asian grocery store.
It’s not a hot pot if there are no vegetables in it. You can add any vegetable to it. Mixing it with vegetables of different textures should be the way to go. You can go with crunchy vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, and carrot. Or mix it with leafy greens like swiss chard and pea shoots. Starchy root veggies are not left out as well. You can add sweet potatoes, squash, and taro root for density in the broth.
Mushrooms are another fun suggestion for your vegetarian hot pot. They have great texture and flavor and they add variety to your meal.
It’s great to add a doughy ingredient to your hot pot for variety. You cannot go wrong with either noodles or dumplings. They pick up flavor from the broth and work fantastic as ingredients.
Equipment for Making Hot Pot
Making hot pot at home requires some special equipment.
To keep the hot pot simmering at a low temperature, you need a steady heat source. Any portable heat source will work, including electric or tabletop gas burners.
Remember that hot pots are a significant meal event, so you need massive pots. Chinese stainless steel pots are recommended for this purpose. They are deep and wide with a rounded bottom. The metal is thin, allowing for fast heat conduction.
Sauce bowls are an essential part of hot pots. Each guest uses them to assemble their dipping sauces.
Easy Directions to Make Vegetarian Hot Pot
Vegetarian hot pot is easy to make, even for first-timers. After making your broth, prepare your ingredients and place them on different plates. There should be an empty plate and a dipping bowl for each guest.
The empty plate is for the cooked ingredients. Each guest would place their preferred ingredient in the hot pot and allow it to cook. After cooking, transfer it to the plate and add your dipping sauces. Enjoy!