The Hot Pot – A Quick and Healthy Warming Supper for a Busy Weeknight

Hot Pot or Steamboat refers to East Asian stews composed of thinly sliced meats, leaf veggies, tofu, mushrooms… A perfect warming dish for winter, as well as the chilly nights of Spring that are still upon us.  Traditionally the hot pot dish is prepared by having a metal pot of liquid simmering on the table to which fresh ingredients are tossed in. The dish is cooked right at the table.  In more recent times “hot pot” has become a term synonymous with East Asian style stews and soups, and does not necessarily mean it is prepared right at the meal table.  Here’s one hot pot dish that I like and make: Pork and Tofu Hot Pot.

Pork and Tofu Hot Pot

Ingredients:
shiitake mushrooms  – 1 cup
white miso paste – 1 tbsp
well pressed extra firm tofu – 1/2 lb
white vinegar – 1 tbsp
green onions (scallions) – 3
pork – 1/2 lb
freshly ground black pepper – 1/4tsp
ginger – 1/4 tsp
garlic – couple cloves minced
paprika – 1/4 tsp
cayenne pepper – 1/4 tsp
water – 2 cups
coconut oil – 2 tbsp
bok choy – 5 leaves

Process:
Thinly slice shiitake mushrooms, and make small cubes of pork and tofu, roll up bok choy and slice..Cut scallions keeping white bulbs and green stalk separate. To oil on medium high heat add the pork, mushrooms, scallion white bulbs, minced garlic, ginger, paprika, cayenne pepper, bok choy, and black pepper.  Stir frequently until pork is browned – about 2 minutes.
Add fried ingredients to simmering miso soup (2 cups water and miso paste). Simmer until pork is tender – 15 minutes or so. Add vinegar and green scallion tops, stir and you are ready to serve.  I enjoy having this over noodles or rice.  Alternatively you could use the scallion tops as a garnish, adding to the final serving bowls.

Check out this post’s featured image for what the end product looks like before being added to noodles or rice.

Couple notes on mixing it up, experimentation:  There are many ways this dish can be changed up.  If you thinly slice the pork like you do for hot pots the cooking time could be reduced.  You can add more black pepper, paprika, and cayenne pepper for something that is more pungent. Add more/less vinegar depending on how much of a sour/pungent combo you want. Adding soy sauce and sesame oil will give the end dish a completely different flavor profile and final appearance/presentation.
You can make the hot pot vegetarian by substituting tofu for pork.  If you do this you might need to add additional flavor as tofu is a quite mild/almost tasteless ingredient.  This can be added through using veggies like carrots, sweet peppers, more shitake mushrooms..in addition to sauces, or marinating the tofu in advance.
If cost is ever a factor you can also substitute cremini for shiitake mushroom as both are meaty.

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