HOT POT. The ultimate, cozy, group food/activity. If you are new to the concept of hot pot, it is basically a simmering pot of broth which is placed on a dining table, where everyone gets to partake in the process of tossing/fishing up food!
Just as pumpkin spice is synonymous with the fall season at Starbucks, as is hot pot to me. Growing up in a country where winter lasts longer than summer, it was always a happy occasion to bring out the hot pot. If not for the food, then for the company. There is something very cozy in taking a moment to cook and eat together, while simultaneously chatting away.
As a kid, my mom would make the stock by simmering different kinds of meats, bones, and vegetables with lots of umami flavor (such as shiitake mushroom, kelp, and tomatoes). Nowadays, since I no longer consume meat, I often go for one of these three favorites: sukiyaki style base, umami vegetable broth, or Korean style chili paste base.
Pictured: Preparing assorted vegetables and vegan protein for the hot pot. (Photo by: Umami nom)
Today, I would like to teach you a quick and easy sukiyaki style broth! It requires no simmering of a time-consuming broth, so it’s perfect for a spontaneous hot pot sesh! (Like this one… Basically emptied the fridge and freezer in search of hot pot ingredients!) It still requires some prepping of ingredients, so let’s get to it, shall we?
Start by soaking everything that needs to be soaked. This includes dried mushrooms and dried sweet potato noodles. Use hot water for a quick soak, and cold if you have some time on your hands (at least a couple of hours). Make sure to keep an eye on the noodles if using hot water, you want them to keep some of their structural integrity, so as not to completely melt in the hot pot later.
A great way to create an umami-bursting broth is by using shiitake mushrooms! The dried ones are a staple in Chinese households. Start by soaking them in some hot water if you are short on time, or use cold water if you are leaving them for a couple of hours. Once the shiitake is done soaking you can remove them from the soaking liquid, but please save the liquid. Carefully pour over the liquid into another vessel, leaving the dirty sediment behind. Now you have an excellent shiitake broth to add a little oumph and umami to your stock!
Thaw the frozen goodies. For this hot pot, I used frozen tofu (unlike regular tofu that’s been frozen, this has more of a firm bite to it, almost bordering on, dare I say, crispy?), puffed tofu, vegan chicken meatballs, and frozen rice cakes. Most of the frozen foods do not require complete thawing, and can be tossed in semi-frozen. The puffed tofu, for example, can go straight from the freezer into the pot.
Pictured: A prepared hot pot, filled with different vegetables, bean curds, sweet potato noodles, noodle sheets, rice cakes, and vegan chicken meatballs. (Photo by: Umami nom)
Notice that the pot is significantly more shallow than your standard cooking pot? This is to prevent your food from getting lost at sea while fishing in the hot pot.
Prepare all your vegetables. If using potatoes, make sure to prepare them by soaking them in cold water to remove excess starch. You may even boil them for a bit before the hot pot, as they require a longer cooking time than many other vegetables. By slicing them thinly, you can avoid this step (lazy tip!). Now it’s time for the sauce.
Lazy Woman Sukiyaki Sauce
- 100 ml Japanese soy sauce
- 75 ml sugar
- 50 ml Shaoxing wine or white wine
- Hot water
- Mix everything together. Lazy sauce complete.
- Optional: Maggi sauce (best described as a seasoned soy sauce)
- Optional: Additional vegetable broth or soaking liquid from shiitake mushrooms
Easy trick to remember this Lazy Woman’s Sukiyaki Sauce is basically 4 parts soy, 3 parts sugar, 2 parts wine.
Get your hot pot started, pour over the sauce, and add hot water/shiitake soaking liquid. You can adjust the taste by adding more sauce or water.
Tip! Have a jug of hot water ready to refill the pot and dilute the stock. As the liquid evaporates, the stock will intensify and make it saltier the longer it simmers.
Tip 2! Time your tossing. Plan the tossing according to the cooking time required. Potatoes and carrots go in first, bok choy and noodles go in last.
This is a really flavorful broth, and doesn’t necessarily require a dip sauce. In Japan it is common to pair sukiyaki with a raw egg yolk dip. Next time I will show you some of my favorite easy dip sauces to go with your hot pot, a little less raw – but equally eggcellent! I hope you feel a little more confident in trying this out for yourself now. I would love to know if you try it, so please tag me on Instagram using #umaminom so I can have a look and leave a like!