Vegan Hotpot in Vietnam
Not a day has gone by in our Vegan Food Quest in Vietnam when we haven’t been blown away by something we’ve eaten and today has been no exception. We had our first experience of eating a vegan hotpot and it was awesome!
We’d seen some local Vietnamese Buddhists eating their vegan hotpot from Miss Lien’s excellent vegan restaurant ‘An Nhu’ that we wrote about last week. They told us that the vegan hotpot from ‘An Nhu’ was exceptionally good and the best in the area (we weren’t surprised) and so we put it firmly on our Vegan Food Quest ‘to eat’ list.
A vegan hotpot where we come from in England is a potato based, slow baked stew; it’s warming, wintery and comforting. A vegan hotpot here in Vietnam is a totally different affair…
First you get noodles, a plate of green leaves and a little bowl of mystery condiment.
We confess to having had no idea what to do when these arrived!
Then you get your hotpot cooker with a lump of paraffin inside.
Ready to get cooking…
The paraffin is lit and your hotpot, which is full of mushrooms, vegetables and soft tofu in a rich tomato based stock, is placed on top to cook at your table.
Look at all those vegan hotpot goodies waiting for you
After only a short while the soup gets fiercely hot and after a little bit more bubbling away, it’s time to add the green leaves.
It’s got to be ready soon surely?
Wait just a little bit longer (if you are impatient you’ll be going crazy right now because it smells so good) and then you are ready to ladle the boiling hot soup over some of the noodles that you’ve put in your bowl. The liquid from the volcanically hot soup will warm your noodles perfectly, meaning they are the perfect consistency and not a glutinous gooey mess.
We’re nearly ready to eat you, yummy vegan hotpot
But wait! There is just one more thing to add before you can finally enter vegan hotpot heaven and that one thing is ‘Chao’. Chao is fermented tofu, its salty, sweet, a bit vinegary and it has that sour taste you only get by fermenting something. One it’s own it’s a bit scary (it looked like some weird salmon that was turning to mush) and it has a strong taste and smell that isn’t for everyone, but take a leap of faith and add a small dollop into your vegan hotpot because it takes the taste to a new dimension.
‘Chao’ or fermented tofu – the King of all noodle soup condiments.
Now let the eating begin. It’s only fair to warn you that it’s impossible not to slurp, dribble delicious hotpot both down your chin, sweat profusely from the heat of being somewhere hot and eating a boiling hot soup and also to to get thoroughly addicted to Chao.
Vietnamese vegan hotpot gets our official Vegan Food Quest seal of approval for sure!
To try this awesome vegan hotpot, get yourself over to see Miss Lien at ‘An Nhu Quan Chay’, Hai Ba Trung, Hoi An, Vietnam which you can also find in our Vegan Guide to Hoi An.