It`s getting really cold here at my place. My feet and toes aren`t happy. My stomach keeps screaming like every hour. Time for hot soup. Rephrase: Hot and spicy soup. All the photos below are actually taken a while ago and I am craving for it again now.
So I made nabe and am planning to have it again very very soon. Nabe means Japanese hotpot or steamboat dishes. People usually have nabe at home or at parties during autumn till winter. Nabe dishes are very interesting and fun to make because of the almost unlimited varieties of options for ingredients used. Another fun part is nabe is usually served in one big clay pot or iron cast placed over stove with low heat to keep the soup warm with everyone gathering surrounding it and shares from the same pot, with individual bowls of course.
Don`t worry, even if you`re living alone, it doesn`t necessarily mean you can`t enjoy this stomach-, body-, and soul-warming nabe. You deserve this greatness.
Now, first thing first. Nabe needs dashi, or Japanese soup stock. Four big items used in combination in preparing dashi are dried shiitake mushroom, kombu seaweed (kelp), katsuobushi (benito), and niboshi (small dried sardines). Dashi preparation also calls for soy sauce, mirin (Japanese sweet wine), and vinegar. When I made my nabe, I only had shiitake mushroom and kombu in hands. I also don`t usually add mirin/wines in my cooking routines for personal reasons. But to me shiitake mushroom and kombu are good enough to make a great nabe. If you happen to have all those ingredients, you surely can go experimenting to find your own best version of dashi
And here comes my disclaimer: This picture below is an additional step I made.
If you have read my other posts, you would perfectly notice how chili and garlic define my life. Just keep reading this, you`ll understand why I added chili and garlic other than my "craziness" reason.
If you want to stick to the common Japanese nabe, please skip to the next step.
Saute chili and garlic. Because they`re beautiful and loving each other. I can smell love in the air.
Now meet dashi stars: kombu seaweed and shiitake mushroom. Smell them. Hhhhmmmm....
I figured how to use them simply by reading the directions written on the packages. For shiitake mushroom, they need to be soaked in cold water for like 20-30 mins or more. Slices take shorter period to get rehydrated than whole dried ones do. For kombu, lightly clean off some dirt by wiping it with kitchen paper before tossing it in water. See the white parts on these kombu? Those are amino acid that gives the good and famous umami flavor, so don`t overdo the cleaning. To be honest, I still don`t know which is dirt and which is the good white, but I just wipe it to make me feel better. LOL. But please let me know if you know some more details, I beg you.
Another confession from me. I didn`t (and don`t) exactly soak the shiitake for the recommended period. My stomach (and his!) and I have a low level of patience. So I just toss the mushroom and kombu in right away after I`m done sauteing garlic and chili and pouring in water.
Next is fish. Yes, I used cod fish (it`s called "tara" in Japanese). It`s a popular choice for fish. You can use meat instead if you want.
There you go, honey. Keep the soup simmering
Finally, kimchi. It`s RED, spicy, crunchy and soft (oh..yum!) pickled white cabbages, the traditional side dish from Korea. So this is another reason why I sauted garlic and chili. Kimchi has them too!
I-love-kimchi. Shoot. I`m salivating now. I need tissue paper.
Together with kimchi, add some more vegetables to give this nabe extra fibers and nutrients. I used nira (garlic chives) and ennoki mushrooms. I can feel my waistline getting smaller already.
When the fish is cooked and the vegetables get wilted, season with soy sauce, fish sauce (this is also additional choice from me), more chili if you want it spicier, salt, and pepper.
Rice? Of course you can have it too. But this time I`m perfectly happy slurping this nabe only.
Oh, and as you might notice, I use my regular cooking pot. I don`t have nabe-specialized pots, but I don`t think it should stop me for making nabe. It shouldn`t stop you either. Trust me.
Dried shiitake mushroom
Dried kombu seaweed (kelp)
Nira (garlic chives)