South East Michigan got 6″-7″ of snow the other day, and now the night-time temperatures are 0*F (or insignificantly above), with high winds. Miserable climate! One of my cats is desperate to go outside, moaning and tearing around the house, clawing the carpet to get my attention, picking fights with the other two; but when I let her out she wants to come in immediately. This weather is also making me claustrophobic.
What better time, then, to have some nabemono?
Nabemono are Japanese hot pot meals, enjoyed communally. Most hot-pots are stews or soups cooked at the table. The pots (donabe) are usually made of clay which can be placed over a fire or other heat source. Some nabemono are brought to the table with the ingredients already in the pot. Other times, diners choose uncooked meats, fish, seafood, vegetables, tofu, or noodles to put into the pot. People socialize and relax while waiting for the food to cook, then take what they like from the pot with some of the broth. More ingredients are added to cook while everyone eats. The leisurely pace continues until the food is gone. The meal ends with rice, often added to the pot to absorb the remaining broth.
Tuna and Leek Hot Pot
- 1 pound maguro akimi (red tuna), cut into 1 12″ cubes
- 6 naganegi long onions or tender leeks, white part only, cut into 1 ” pieces crosswise
- 1 bunch chrythanemum leaves, cut into halves
- 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and julienned
- 1 4-inch square kombu (kelp), soaked in 2 quarts water for 2 hours
- 1/2 cup sake (rice wine)
- 2 Tablespoons shoyu (soy sauce)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 yuzu citron or lime, cut into wedges
- Shichimi togarashi (seven-spice powder)
- 2 cups fresh-cooked or day-old plain rice
- 2 to 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 Tablespoon green scallion disks
- Fresh-ground black pepper
• • Arrange the tuna on a platter. On another platter, arrange the long onions or leeks, the chrysanthemum leaves, and the ginger side-by-side.
• • Remove the kelp from its soaking liquid, and discard the kelp, reserving the stock. In a donabe earthenware pot or an enameled pot, combine the kelp stock and sake, and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer. Add the shoyu and salt. If you have a tabletop gas stove, set it on the dining table.
• • Transfer the hot pot to the tabletop stove, and invite the diners to the table. If you do not have a tabletop stove, finish the cooking in the kitchen.First add about eight pieces each of long onion or leek and ginger to the pot, and cook them over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes until the onion is tender.
• • Add a handful of chrysanthemum leaves, and cook for 1 minute.
• • Add 2 or 3 pieces of tuna per person and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, depending on your preference.
• • During the cooking, skim off the foam occasionally.
• • Each diner should now transfer some of the fish and vegetables to individual serving bowls, ladle over a little of the simmering broth, add a squeeze of yuzu or lime juice and a genourous sprinkle of seven-spice powder, and eat.
• • Repeat the simmering process until all the tuna and vegetables are cooked and eaten.
• • At the end of the cooking, some of the fully flavored broth will be left in the hot pot. Add the cooked rice to the broth. The liquid should barely cover the rice; add water, if needed. Cook the rice over low heat, covered, for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the beaten eggs, pouring them evenly over the rice. Cook the mixture, covered, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve the rice topped with scallion rings and a little ground black pepper.
Nabemono recipes begin with either a light kombu stock, or a deeply flavored stock made with soy sauce, dashi, and/or miso.
Familiar dishes in the U.S.:
Sukiyaki: thinly sliced beef, vegetables, tofu, and noodles in a sweet shoyu broth and dipped in raw egg
Oden: fish cakes, daikon, eggs, and konnyaku with karashi (Japanese mustard)
Shabu shabu: thin sliced beef or pork with vegetables, dipped in ponzu or sesame dip
Less familiar are yosenabe, chankonabe, yodofu, and motsunabe. And of course there are regional specialties across Japan. Ingredients include chicken, meatballs, udon, potato starch noodles, gyoza, beef or pork offal, chives, salmon, oysters, potato, negi, shungiku, shiitake, kabocha, taro, …
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