Okay yes, that title sounds a bit odd but let me explain - my pre-pandemic life was lived out in one of the foodie hotspots of the UK, Bristol. I was conveniently situated next to St Nicks market and would frequently pick up my lunch from one of the market stalls. I quickly became obsessed with Chilli Daddy - a stall serving Sichuan Street Food. I still dream about it today. In fact when I was able to visit Bristol last summer, getting a Chilli Daddy was literally the first thing I did.
Why is it so good?
I honestly don’t know. My go to order is the Tofu Noodle Hot Pot - I am not a huge fan of tofu but for some reason, the tofu in this Hot Pot acts as a literal sponge for flavour and outshines the meat version for again, reasons unknown.
So what did you do?
I tried to make it myself with a limited degree of success.
The Hot Pot Stock
Until I started researching what was in Chilli Daddy I hadn’t even realised that it was Sichuan. This was great as I quickly discovered that a Sichuan hot pot is a very popular dish and that the stock is most frequently purchased and not made from scratch. I found a few packets in the local Asian supermarket and was delighted when I tasted it - it tasted like Chilli Daddy. But there is more to it than just the stock..
Flavour sponge - I’m telling you. I’d read that a good way to increase the spongeyness of tofu is to freeze it - the wetness that you would normally drain and press out of tofu is frozen within it and created little pockets throughout; like a sponge. The best tofu to use for this is soft tofu apparently but I was only able to find silken. It did work *sort of* - it was definitely better than just lumping it in and I would definitely recommend trying this technique if you are adding tofu to anything brothy. However, it was not quite the texture I had grown accustomed to.
At Chilli Daddy in Bristol you choose from a spiciness ranking of 1-5. 1 being ‘mild’ and 5 being ‘nope can’t eat this’. At my bravest I made my way through a number 4 whilst sweating profusely. My version was spicy - but I didn’t break a sweat.
Again, it’s the little details that make a difference when trying to recreate a favourite dish - in the hot pot from Chilli Daddy, you get little beans and little peanuts throughout that add a delicious bit of texture. I added cannellini beans and pink peanuts - these worked and were tasty but again, something was not quite right with my version!
The takeaway is that I will probably stick with takeaway. I still enjoyed my attempt but I know where my first stop will be once I am allowed to visit Bristol again.