But a week or so ago, I was perusing the freezer case, and I happened upon this frozen bag of Vegan Traditional Hot Pot mix.
It's by Verisoy, which is a brand the Viet Hoa carries a lot of. They make vegan meats in all shapes, sizes, and colors. I couldn't really tell from the frosty window on the bag what was inside, but the picture on the outside looked intriguing. It was kind of more expensive that I'd typically spring for — $12.99 — so I put it back. But I went home and couldn't stop thinking about it. So a couple days later, I splurged. And then late last week, I made the soup using the frozen mix (which included a spice pack) and fresh bok choy, carrots, snow peas, and mushrooms.
As the meats thawed in the soup pot, I could tell they were weird. But I expected as much. They certainly didn't resemble any meats I'd ever eaten in my former Standard American Diet. Here's the finished product.
The little logs were my favorite. I believe they may have been made of fried tofu because they had the spongiest, tofu-like texture.
The little white and red balls seemed to be emulating some sort of seafood. They had a chewy texture that was slightly off-putting, but that didn't stop me from eating them. There were also some strange greyish shrimp-shaped pieces that had the same flavor and texture as the balls.
Judging by appearance, I think the rectangles (in the foreground) are made from tofu. But the texture is squishier than normal, and they had a sea veggie taste. These weren't my fave. That purplish thing in the background was a chunk of taro, which was also in the mix with the meats. It was okay, kind of potato-y. Before, I'd only ever had crispy taro chips.
I really loved the beefy pieces. Verisoy makes a lot of dried TVP products, and this was very clearly rehydrated TVP. There's something comforting about knowing what you're eating.
The first few bowls of this I ate were just broth, meats, and veggies with a steamed cabbage & soy protein-stuffed bun on the side (also from the Viet Hoa ... love these!). But tonight, I had some leftover soup and added rice noodles, and that really stepped it up.
Would I buy this again? No. Too weird. But I'm still working through the leftovers, and I plan to finish it out. I don't regret buying it though. I love trying new things, at least once!