Saturday, November 27, 2010

Nabemono 鍋物

Nabe 鍋 means "pot". Nabemono is an all inclusive term of any hot pot dish but often the dish itself is called "nabe". Any dish you cook (usually on the table) in a pot (most often earthenware) with broth is called "nabe" or "nabemono". Sukiyaki  すき焼き, shabu-shabu しゃぶしゃぶ and oden おでん may be considered types of nabe in a broad sense but I do not think it is appropriate to include them in "nabemono". Depending on the ingredients and seasoning of the broth, you have many variations and many names of "nabe". Whatever the name, in cold winter days, nabemono is one of the most comforting  and warming dishes. The types of broth seasonings could be;

1) Dashi without seasoning; When your broth is not seasoned, you use a dipping sauce such as ponzu. Tarachirinabe タラちり鍋. Mizutaki 鶏の水炊き, and Yudoufu 湯豆腐 are three such examples.
2) Dashi and soy sauce based; Yosebabe 寄せ鍋 is the best example.
3) Dashi and miso based; Chankonabe  ちゃんこ鍋, Ishikarinabe 石狩鍋, and Dotenabe 土手鍋 are three such examples.

Since other ingredients will impart lots of flavor to the broth, the starting broth is usually a simple kelp broth. In terms of the ingredients, you could limit them to only a few items (like yudoufu in which only tofu or tofu and nappa cabbage are usually used) or you could add anything including sea food, meat, vegetables, tofu, fish cake and more, as is done in chankonabe and yosenabe. There are no rules (although there are some guide lines). The name of the nabe changes based on the ingredients, locality, and types of broth.
Here is one example I made one evening in a small one person pot. I am not sure what I should call this. A type of yosenabe but I used mostly vegetables and at the very end decided to add shrimp. I first made dashi from kelp and a "dashi pack". This is like a tea bag but instead of tea, combination of pulverized bonito flakes, dried fish and kelp (there are several different kinds) are placed in the bag. It is much better than granulated instant dashi but still very convenient. I seasoned the broth with mirin, sake and soy sauce (to taste, since I did not measure). I started with the ingredients which take the longest time to cook. In my case, I added daikon (halved and thinly sliced) and carrot (sliced a bit thicker than the daikon) first, then after 10 minutes or so, I added the white part of Nappa cabbage or Hakusai 白菜, tofu 豆腐, followed by (after 5 minutes) maitake mushroom 舞茸, green parts of Nappa, scallion, and finally shrimp.

The ingredients I could have added include fish (usually a white meat, hardy fish such as cod), chicken (cut up thigh meat), fish cakes, and shell fish. As a condiment, I used seven flavored Japanese red pepper powder 七味唐辛子. To finish the meal, I could have added cooked rice to make porridge, or noodles such as udon noodles but I was too full just eating the items I cooked. Traditionally, warm sake is the choice of drink but we like cold sake even in winter and with nabe.

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