5 quarts mushroom or vegetable broth
5 tablespoons organic cornstarch or arrowroot powder
5 tablespoons toasted sesame oil (get one small bottle if preparing tofu—it is just enough for both)
5 red onions, thinly sliced
5 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
2 tsp. salt for sautéing
15 cloves garlic, minced
10 tablespoons minced lemongrass
5 tablespoons minced ginger
2 ½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
10 star anise pods
1-1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 oz dried or 1 lb fresh shiitake mushrooms
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari)
5 roughly chopped tomatoes
Fresh black pepper
Five 15-oz cans coconut milk
Juice of 2 limes
fresh basil and cilantro
5-6 packages firm organic tofu, cut into little triangles
5 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 cup soy sauce
Prepare the hot pot in two large stock pots.
Mix half of the cornstarch (2 ½ Tbsp.) into a bowl with two cups of broth, and the other 2 ½ Tbsp. into two more cups of broth. Set both bowls aside.
Preheat two stock pots over medium heat. Sauté ½ of the onions and ½ of the bell peppers in 2 ½ Tbsp. oil with 1 tsp. of salt in each pot, until onions are soft, about 5 minutes.
To each pot add half of the garlic, lemongrass, ginger and red pepper flakes and mix in. Cook until fragrant, about a minute, then add 2 quarts of broth to each pot and stream in the broth/cornstarch mixture from the bowls. Add most of the other ingredients: star anise, cinnamon, dried shiitakes, soy sauce, tomatoes and fresh black pepper. (If you use fresh mushrooms, wait and add them during the last 10 minutes or so of cooking.)
Stir often for the first 10 minutes or so, until the cornstarch has thickened the broth a bit. Now cover pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to simmer and cook covered for 30 minutes, until mushrooms are completely softened.
Add 2 ½ cans of coconut milk and the juice of one lime to each pot. Taste for salt, starting with 2 tsp. salt for each pot. Heat through and serve over rice with fresh basil and cilantro.
Marinate tofu for at least 5 minutes in 1 cup of soy sauce and 5 Tbsp. sesame oil. Grill in a nonstick pan with a little oil or on a grill sprayed with oil.