Now that we’re just days away from the first day of fall, it’s hot pot season! I’m coming at you with this sweet and sour Vietnamese hot pot situation that is going to warm you right up. Hot pot, if you haven’t had it, is hands down, one of the best ways to eat, especially when the weather is cool. Essentially, it’s a bunch of ingredients laid out at the table with a simmering pot of soup in the middle. Everything goes in the pot, which is on a portable burner, and is simmered. Everyone pops things in, scoops things out, eats, chats, and has a good time. It’s casual, fun, infinitely customizable, and delicious!
Usually, we do a Chinese style hot pot or Japanese style oden, but this time around it was Vietnamese-inspired. Small Luxury Hotels approached us to ask if we would make a recipe from their book which features signature dishes from their hotels around the world. Flipping through the book, the Naman Special Hot Pot was definitely the one that stood out. I have never been to Vietnam before but if we ever do go I would hope that Da Nang would be on the list. I hear the food is incredible, there’s a fun looking dragon bridge, and the beaches are insanely gorgeous.
If there’s one thing that Mike and I like to save money for, it’s travel. We absolutely love seeing the world and more importantly, eating it. I defintely think that food is a justifiable reason to travel and one of the reasons I love food so much is because it reminds me of other places I’ve been. I have extreme wanderlust and am always dreaming of our next travel destination and all the fun things to see, eat, and do.
To be honest, I probably spend entirely too much time day dreaming. I’ll tell myself that I’ll just take a peek at hotels and then a couple of hours will pass and and all that I’ve done was come up with a bucket list of places I want to go to. I love looking at SLH because the hotels on offer are so unique – they’re a boutique brand that feature smaller one-of-a-kind hotels. Fingers crossed that I’ll stay in one of their hotels soon! Until then, I’m going to be flipping through the pages of their cookbook and fantasizing about staying in gorgeous hotels (seriously, check out their insta for some serious hotel porn!) and eating ALL the food.
Speaking of food, this hot pot was so good we literally ate it three times in a row: for lunch, then for dinner, then again for lunch. We saved the stock and just kept adding more and more ingredients to it. The lemongrass ginger shallot garlic mix built an incredible aromatic base and the tomatoes and pineapples added a sweet and sour mix that was completely addictive. There’s just something so warm, comforting, and cozy about hanging around a bubbling pot of deliciousness!
The recipe suggests going for hot pot ingredients that are fresh and available so we went to our favorite Asian grocery store and picked up whatever struck our fancy. Our grocery store has a dedicated hot pot area with thinly sliced meats which makes it super easy to go through and pick out what we like, but you can always thinly slice meats as well. Just make sure you choose something that’s nicely marbled. We went with pork jowl which is an underrated cut of meat – just look at that marbling! We also picked up some tofu puffs because they act like little sponges that soak up all the flavors. Fish balls are also a favorite and we got some kale too, which is completely untraditional. The key is, to have things that you love. It’s a great meal if you have specific food needs because it can easily be carb-free, vegan, or even keto if you stick to just meats.
PS – The base stock is completely customizable, if you want it to be vegan, just use veggie stock and season with salt instead of fish sauce.