This spicy Asian soup is great for a dinner party - guests choose what goes into their soup, then ladle over the spicy broth.
Make sure you have separate utensils for your guests to use to transfer the raw ingredients into the stockpot, and clean utensils for eating - this reduces the chance of cross contamination from the raw ingredients and your guests' serving plates.
2 tbsp groundnut oil
3-4 long dried Sichuan chillies or long dried chillies
50g/2oz whole Sichuan peppercorns
1 tbsp chilli bean sauce (available from Asian grocers)
1 tbsp chilli sauce
1.7 litres/3 pints hot vegetable stock
2 whole star anise
6 dried Chinese mushrooms
1 small handful dried tangerine peel (available from Asian grocers, or subtitute with the zest of 1 orange)
1 large spring onion, roughly chopped
250ml/9fl oz chilli oil
2.5cm/1in piece fresh root ginger, peeled
2 red chillies, de-seeded, sliced
250g/9oz ready-made fish balls (available from Asian grocers) (optional)
1 small handful Chinese cabbage, thickly sliced
1 small handful deep-fried tofu
1 small handful fresh tofu, cut into 2.5cm/1in chunks
For the spicy soup base, heat a 2 litre/3½ pint capacity wok until smoking and add the groundnut oil. Add the chillies and Sichuan peppercorns and stir fry for a few seconds, or until fragrant.
Stir in the chilli bean sauce and chilli sauce and then pour in the vegetable stock. Add the star anise, Chinese mushrooms, tangerine peel, spring onion, ginger and chillies and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
Ten minutes before serving, add the chilli oil, the sliced Chinese cabbage, deep-fried tofu, fresh tofu and fish balls, if using.
For the vinegar, chilli and soy dipping sauce, combine all the dipping sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and set to one side.
For the Taiwanese dipping sauce, combine all of the dipping sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and set to one side.
To serve, arrange the lamb, prawns, tofu, mushrooms and fishcakes on separate plates. Transfer the soup base to an electric wok or fondue and set it up in the centre of the table. Let guests help themselves and cook the ingredients in the spicy broth. Serve with the dipping sauces.
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