Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Oyster and tofu "nabe" in miso broth 牡蛎の味噌鍋

It is getting cold especially in the morning and evening here in DC. We even had snow. We are definitely getting into "Nabe"  鍋 season. When I posted "Nabemono" 鍋物, I mentioned "Dotenabe" 土手鍋, which is famous in the Hiroshima 広島 region. It uses miso smeared (or "schmeared" in NY and NJ) around the rim of a pot (resembling a "bank" made of soil, "dote" 土手 in Japanese, along the river)  with dashi broth poured in the center of the pot. You dissolve the miso into the broth as you cook. Oysters, for which Hiroshima is famous, among other ingredients, have to be included, in this nabe dish. I found a variation of this dish in the 1st volume of "Otsumami Yokocho" おつまみ横町 P149, I decided to make this nabe dish. When I was choosing which vessel I was going to use for this dish, I found this one (below). I completely forgot that we had it. It is a miniature (about 7-8 inches), imitation cast iron (I guess it is made of cast aluminum with anonized surface) "nabe" with a wooden lid. It is a perfect vessel for this dish.

Here it is when the lid was lifted and the oysters were revealed. When I read the recipe, I immediately thought I had to modify this. The seasoning broth, as instructed, would be too salty and way too sweet for our taste. Besides, I needed some green.

Oyster: The oysters we got were not the best. I bought some already shucked and in a plastic container (I am no sure if they had been pasteurized, probably not). There were a total of 10-12 medium to small oysters. I washed them in salted water, drained and put them on layers of paper towels.

Tofu: I used 3/4 leftover tofu from when I made other dish. I cut it into cubes as seen above.

Miso broth: This is where I deviated from the recipe. I mixed sake (1/2 cup), miso (1.5 tbs or a bit more), and sugar (0.5 tbs). The original calls for sake (1/4 cup), miso (3 tbs) and sugar (1 tbs). In addition, imitating the traditional "dotenabe" flavor, I char the surface of the miso lightly using a small kitchen blow torch (every home cook should have one) to enhance the fragrant flavor of miso before dissolving it in sake.

After the miso broth came to a simmer, I added the tofu and when it was warmed through, I added the oysters and scallions and cooked for a few minutes or until the oysters are just cooked. Although this may not be enough even for one (you big eaters out there), we shared this. I served this in small individual bowls and, before eating, we sprinkled "sansho" 山椒 powder. You have to have sake with this. The broth was surprisingly good. Even though I reduced the amount of sugar, the broth was slightly sweet but also very delicate and excellent. Although this dish was wonderful and we enjoyed it, we could have had better quality oysters. Especially when you use oysters which can be eaten raw, slightly undercooking oysters is the best way to enjoy this nabe. 


Tobias said...

looks pretty good. I love onabe

Uncle N said...

Chanko-nabe, you and Jon had looked very good as well. When you have a nabe, you tend to overeat unless you start with a very small nabe like mine. You may have to go back to your Hoppy diet!