With Lunar New Year celebrations coming up soon, we wanted to share an Asian recipe with a difference. This Vegan Hot Pot is by Melissa Leong of Fooderati. Known for her hosting duties on SBS’s The Chef’s Line, writing for Delicious and a host of other food-related books and events, this is one talented woman. A first generation Chinese-Singaporean Australian, Leong isn’t afraid to try anything once.

Of this recipe, Melissa says, ‘Ok, so by now we all know that even the most dedicated of meat eaters should probably eat a few more vegetables...not only for health, but also for sustainability of agriculture. That aside, they're bloody delicious when treated with a little love. Here's probably the simplest recipe I've ever posted, it's a Chinese-style hot pot that's full of flavour, texture and is super good for you as well, lots of protein, healthy carbohydrates and good fats to keep you full.’

Serves 1 hungry person or 2 as part of a meal

Ingredients

1/2 small brown onion, finely sliced
1/4 large sweet potato, washed and chopped into 1 inch cubes*
1 heaped tablespoon, mushroom XO sauce (from the Asian grocery aisle at most supermarkets)
100g firm tofu, chopped into 1 inch cubes (about a third of a packet, as a guide)
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 handful fresh green or butter beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons pickled mushrooms (optional)
1-2 sprigs green peppercorns (you could use a teaspoon of dried Sichuan peppercorns instead)

Method

Preheat an oven to 200c. In a heavy based frying pan on a medium heat, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil with the onions and stir fry for 1-2 minutes until translucent. Throw in the sweet potato and turn up the heat to lightly brown the edges of the sweet potato for 2-3 minutes. Add the XO and turn down the heat, coating everything evenly. Throw in the tofu and gently stir to combine. Add a pinch of salt flakes and the stock and bring the hot pot to a simmer. Add the beans, pickled mushrooms and peppercorns, stir briefly to combine season, to taste.

Pour the hot pot into a small cast iron dish or any heavy casserole pot that 'just' fits the ingredients (you don't want a heap of space, because you want the liquid to bubble, not evaporate completely). If it's looking a little dry, top with more stock but do not cover completely. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the top is crispy and golden and the liquid has reduced to a sauce consistency. Carefully remove and set aside until cool enough to serve. Serve with brown rice, noodles or a super fresh cabbage salad.

*Basically, you want everything to be roughly the same size so everything cooks evenly. Bite-sized pieces are roughly what you want to go for!