RECIPE #173, DAY #210
ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Chinese Hot Pot” from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker, by Robin Robertson*
TIMING: 30 minutes, or all day in the crockpot
TOOLS: A crockpot… or not
COOK TYPE: Crockpot, slow cooker, or stovetop
HEALTH: As long as soy doesn’t mess with your hormones, this is a very lean, light lunch or dinner. In fact it’s so light that–unless you really are sick–you will want something else to provide satiety.
EXPERIENCE: I normally don’t use this cookbook because I consider the recipes to be too bland. However, I really wanted a simple crockpot dump dinner to use the tofu I had in the fridge, and I also wanted something that was sick-friendly. This recipe was perfect, but–as expected–it came out under-flavored and underwhelming. I have changed things in order to really ramp up the flavors for the next time. (Part of the problem with the recipes in this book is that most of them have zero fat. That sounds all good, but fat provides a vehicle of sorts to carry flavors across your tongue.)
It did hit the spot for me, all curled up on the couch with a head cold and a snowy world outside.
NOTES: I think that most foods that come out of the crockpot have a certain eu de crockpot. This soup is no exception. If you want to avoid it, just make it in a soup pot and simmer for 30 minutes or so. The veggies in this one are not supposed to be too soft. Also, you can avoid this by using the sesame oil to brown the shallots and carrots before placing in the crockpot.
Despite the original title of this recipe, it is not a hot pot. Hot pots involve cooking veggies and meats in a super hot broth at the table. This is hot pot-inspired… at least once I got done with it.
This is a vegetarian–even vegan–soup.
- In the insert of your crockpot, combine 6 cups veggie or chicken broth, 1 diced package extra firm tofu, 1/4 cup tamari soy sauce, 1/4 cup mirin, 2 thin-sliced shallots, 1 thin-sliced carrot, 1 thin-sliced bok choy, 6 ounces drained water chestnuts, 4 thin-sliced garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons light sesame oil, 1 tablespoon grated ginger, 1 stick cinnamon, 2 whole star anise, 1/2 teaspoon anise seed, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake. Cook on low for 8 hours.
- An hour before eating, add 4 ounces sliced shiitake or button mushrooms and 1 ounce trimmed snow peas.
- Serve hot, topped with Sambal, thin-sliced scallions, chopped cilantro, and with Jasmine rice or rice noodles to stir in.
Serve with Jasmine rice, rice noodles, or Chinese dumplings, and sambal, toasted sesame oil, hoisin, rice wine vinegar, and black bean sauce for stirring in. A handful of cilantro and scallion would also be welcome.
*Recipe changed from the original.