Cauliflower & Veggie Dry Pot
Dry pot is a pungent, spicy, dry version of hot pot, featuring the signature Sichuan numbing spice flavor (mala or 麻辣). This dish has countless variations of ingredients, and most street food stalls put out stacks of veggies and meat to let diners make their own dry pots.
This healthy version brings strong flavor with less oil and sodium. A variety of natural spices cut the need for salty sauce, and boiling and braising lessen the need for oil.
The core spice mix for dry pot is chili peppers, Sichuan peppercorn, cumin, and fennel seeds. On top of that, shiitake mushrooms and douchi to provide umami flavor and complexity. For ingredients, hardy and firm vegetables work best since they can cook longer to absorb more flavor.
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
4 red chilis
1 tablespoon douchi
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
6 shiitake mushrooms
4 tablespoons yellow wine
1 head of cauliflower
1 stalk of winter bamboo
1 waxy potato
8 stalks of thin water celery
2 slices of dried cured tofu
Step 1: Chop the Cauliflower
Separate the cauliflower florets from their stems by cutting around the stem at the base of the floret. Keep the stems and slice them thinly, or discard for a more visually nice dish.
Step 2: Cut the other vegetables
Scrub the skin of the potatoes to remove any dirt, then slice them thinly. The skin can optionally be kept on for flavor and nutrition. Slice up the winter bamboo thinly, discarding the hard tip and base. Slice the water celery into bite-sized shoots. Dice the shiitake mushrooms finely.
Step 3: ParBoil the Cauliflower & Potatoes
The cauliflower and the potatoes cook more evenly if they’re partially boiled before stir frying. Fill a stockpot with enough water to cover the cauliflower and potatoes, and bring it to a boil. Add the chopped cauliflower and potatoes to the boiling water and boil for 3 minutes. The cauliflower should come out whiter and a bit soft on the outside, but not soft all the way through.
Step 4: Prepare Spices
Cut open the chilis and remove the seeds. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after this step, or use gloves.
Step 5: Make the sauce
In a large wok, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over low-medium heat. The low heat will toast our spices without burning. Add the Sichuan peppercorns and the sliced chilis first and let them toast for 2 minutes to release flavor. Add the fennel, cumin, and douchi. Mix well in the oil. Add the mushrooms and maintain the low-medium heat. They’ll expel some liquid as they cook. Stir fry for two minutes, then add the dark soy sauce and mix well.
Step 6: Add Bamboo, Celery, and tofu
Add the bamboo, celery, and tofu into the sauce and mix well. Stir fry for 3 minutes. The pot is going to be quite dry at this point since we’re not using much oil, but the low heat keeps everything from burning.
Step 7: Add Cauliflower, potatoes & wine
Add the cauliflower and potatoes, then pour in the wine. Mix everything up well. The wine helps distribute the sauce over the remaining vegetables. Cover the pot and let everything simmer for about 5 minutes.