"Saigon’s Chinatown is always an exciting area for street food. My go-to place there is Dân Ích; it’s the hottest hotpot joint around and gets really, really busy. Vietnamese hotpot is cooked in a round, metal trough-like vessel with a hollow chute up the middle. Cooks place the pots over really hot charcoal, pumping air though the coals to fuel the fire; flames whoosh up, out of the chute, heating the soup in the deep, circular outer part of the vessel. To make this dish at home, you’ll need a portable gas stove for cooking at the table, and a steamboat hotpot which you can easily pick up in Chinatown." Luke Nguyen, Luke Nguyen's Street Food Asia
- 225 g rice vermicelli noodles
- 3 litres chicken stock
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- ½ Chinese cabbage (wombok), washed and sliced into 4 cm pieces
- 1 bunch mustard greens, washed and sliced into 4 cm pieces
- 1 bunch chrysanthemum leaves (tan o), washed and torn into 10 cm pieces (optional)
- 500 g raw tiger prawns, peeled and deveined
- 500 g boneless barramundi fillets, sliced into 5 mm-thick pieces
- 500 g mussels, scrubbed well, beards removed
- 500 g cleaned squid tubes, cut into 1 cm rings
- 12 scallops, on the half-shell
- 125 ml (½ cup) light soy sauce, for dipping
- 4 bird’s eye chillies, thinly sliced
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Cook noodles according to packet instructions.
In a large saucepan, combine the stock, salt, sugar and fish sauce. Mix well and bring to the boil.
Meanwhile, on separate platters, arrange the greens, seafood and noodles. Pour the soy sauce into small dipping bowls and add some sliced chilli.
Place the gas stove and steamboat hotpot in the middle of the dinner table. Transfer 2 litres of the hot stock mixture to the steamboat. Ignite the gas stove and heat the stock.
When the stock starts to simmer, each person dips some greens and seafood into the stock until cooked. They then retrieve their cooked ingredients with their chopsticks and ladle some of the hot broth into their bowls.
As the greens and seafood cook, the broth becomes increasingly flavoursome. When the broth starts to boil down, replenish the pot with more stock.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Lucy Tweed. Food preparation by Tammi Kwok.