Hot Pot Soup Base (Tomato Flavor) (番茄火锅汤底)
January 14, 2023  Print
Winter, especially during holiday gatherings, is a great time to enjoy hot pot. When the weather gets too cold, nothing beats a table with a piping hot pot in the center and a variety of meat, seafood, and vegetable dishes surrounding it. Everyone can pick what they like from the various choices and eat at his/her own pace while chatting away the hours. It’s always been one of my top choices for entertaining family and friends because you can spend hours eating at a leisurely pace, catching up with people, and not worrying about the food getting cold.
For someone who grew up in Beijing, I started eating hot pot at a very young age. My paternal grandparents would prepare either hot pot or dumplings for Chinese New Year. The hot pot my grandparents made was actually called instant-boiled mutton (涮羊肉) in northern China. This type of hot pot is a signature northern style hot pot. It’s super focused on the quality of the mutton/lamb meat rather than the soup base used for boiling (heating) the mutton or the dipping sauce. The mutton/lamb meat was always shaved paper thin with perfect balance of lean and fat parts. It takes second for the meat to cook in the hot pot, all while being held by the chopsticks.
Over the years as I grew older and traveled more, I experienced many different types of hot pot. One thing I’ve learned from all my experiences is that the soup base used for the hot pot can play a very important role. It can determine the overall flavor of the meat and other ingredients that comes out of the hot pot.
Nowadays you can certainly get many different types of hot pot soup base from Asian grocery stores or online. After tasting a few, I have to admit that they are not only quite good but also very convenient. I’ve tried brands like Little Sheep (小肥羊) and Haidilao (海底捞). But I often think to myself that they may have many chemical preservatives and sodium, which I try to minimize for my family. Eating healthier and using more natural ingredients is what drives me to make most of our food from scratch and manage a small vegetable garden in my backyard. But it’s definitely not easy, especially when you can find almost anything in a ready-to-eat or heat-ready form in stores for a reasonable price. Even for me as a seasoned home cook, I sometimes struggle to justify the time and effort spent making something from scratch when you can just buy it straight off the shelf.
Back to today’s topic. This recipe is one of my favorite hot pot soup bases. It’s a tomato-flavored hot pot soup base. The hot pot soup base has a distinct tomato flavor, but it’s not overpowering and still allows you to dip your meat in your favorite dipping sauce. My kids particularly enjoy this tomato-flavored hot pot soup base because they like drinking the tomato flavored soup straight from the pot, and the cooked meat and veggies have enough flavor that they don’t even need dipping sauce.
If you like this hot pot soup base, I would encourage you to try my Tomato Onion Pork Bone Soup, which also relies on my pork bone stock soup base, but (like this hot pot soup base) has a discernible tomato flavor that my family loves.
Gluten Free, Vegan, Low Carb
Preparation Time: 10 minutes (not including time for making homemade stock)
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: ~2 to 2.5 quarts (~1.9 to 2.4 liter) soup base
- 1 to 1.5 lb tomatoes (4 to 5 medium tomatoes)
- 6 oz tomato paste
- 1 1-inch long piece of ginger
- 1 small onion (any type is fine)
- 2 to 2.5 quarts pork bone stock,1 chicken stock 1 or water
- 1 green onion
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Remove the skin from the tomatoes by first making a crosscut on each of the tomatoes and immersing them in hot water for 1 to 2 minutes. For more details, follow my instructions from my previous recipe for Tomato Fish Fillet. After removing the tomato skin, cut the tomatoes into dices.
- Peel and cut the ginger and onion into big pieces. Puree the ginger and onion until smooth. Alternatively, you can use a fine cheese grater to grate the ginger and onion into a soft slush.
- Heat a large sauce pan or pot designed for hot pot 2 under medium high heat. When the pot is warm, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and the pureed ginger and onion, stirring immediately. Add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and keep stirring to distribute heat evenly. Then add the diced tomatoes and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, gently stirring around. When the tomatoes release quite a bit of juice, add 2 to 2.5 quarts of pork bone stock, chicken stock, or water, and mix gently. Close the lid. When the liquid boils, turn the heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes (if using stock) or 20 minutes (if using water). Turn off the heat.
- Use a handheld blender to blend the soup base a few more times if a smoother texture is desired. Otherwise use the tomato soup base right away after adding the green onions. The hot pot soup base can also be consumed directly as soup.
- You can either use stock or water here. I find it much more flavorful with homemade pork bone stock or chicken stock. For the homemade chicken stock, skip the last step.
- Here I used a stove top pot that I could lift directly from the stove to serve on a countertop butane stove. If you have an electric hot pot, you can always prepare the soup base in a saucepan and add it to the hot pot after preparing it on the stove.
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