Thursday, June 05, 2008

Nabemono with udon

Okay, it's getting old now. It's the middle of June, and we're still expecting a high temperature of 60-65°. Are you fucking kidding me? I've been checking the National Weather Service to see just how far off we've been from normal June weather, and it's ridiculous. A couple weeks ago we had that freak 95°+ degree weather for two days (record-breaking high), but for the past week we've had an average of 7° below normal (that's ranging from 1-12°). Yesterday we reached a high of 58°. So what the hell am I supposed to do?

Make soup.

I have my requisite fridge full of strange produce: garlic flower buds, Okinawan purple yams (not really in the fridge, but you get it), tong hao/shungiku (chrysanthemum leaves), baby choy sum, chayote, king oyster mushrooms, burdock, ginger, scallion, and half a clove of elephant garlic. I also had a block of tofu and some good udon.

Nabemono is really just a basic hotpot of dashi, vegetables, tofu, and maybe some seafood, meat (e.g., pork belly) and/or oden (fish cakes). We ate motsunabe in Tokyo that included shiro miso and offal like tripe and other grisly bits. Nabe is food of the sumo, although it is very low calorie if you leave out the pork belly (and if you don't eat the whole pot, then get right to napping). The one serving of noodles contains more calories than the whole bowl of soup.

You can pick up a clay nabe pot with lid for about $10 at any Asian grocery store that sells dishes. You can use them straight on the burner, even though they make strange crackly noises at first. I'm going to try braising short ribs in mine next time.

5 cups dashi (recipe follows)
1/4 c mirin
1/4 c soy sauce or tamari
1/2 c sake
splash Chinese black vinegar or rice vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
3" ginger, cut into matchsticks
3" burdock, peeled and matchsticked
pinch salt

Quickie Dashi
5 c water
1 30g pack of dried bonito flakes
1 5" square piece of kombu, rinsed

Simmer these together for about 15 minutes over low heat. Strain.

1 Okinawan purple yam
1/2 pound of tofu (I like Chinese firm tofu because it doesn't disintegrate into the soup)
1 king oyster mushroom or a handful of shiitake (I add two dried shiitakes to flavor the broth)
1/4 chayote
3 or 4 garlic shoots
1/2 clove elephant garlic
handful of choy sum
handful of shungiku
3 or 4 scallions
4 oz. udon, cooked

Cut everything into bite-sized pieces and simmer starting with yam and tofu, moving on to the ingredients that require less time. Add greens and scallions last, then add cooked udon and serve. Top with togarashi to taste.


Peter G said...

Claypots are fantastic to cook in..and yes, very chea and great for stews in the oven. Again, love your combination of ingredients.

Syd said...

Looks delish. Udon is fun, isn't it?

BTW, count your blessings. Our heat index is 105.

Peter M said...

Nicely're visit(s) to Japan gave these superpowers to whip up pan-Asian dishes.

I couldn't come up with this if my life depended on it so, I hate you (in the nicest way).:)

Jeff said...

Great another kitchen thing I have to go buy. My checkbook hates you for suggesting nabe pot.

p.s. happy to see I am not the only one who keeps strange stuff in their fridge/freezer. My friends look at me like I should be hospitalized when they go through them (I thought everyone kept a pig's head in the freezer but apparently only serial killers do according to a group vote).

glamah16 said...

Its hot as hell here but I want that soup. I need a clay pot. I love how you cook.

Heather said...

Petah - This weather has felt more like your season than ours, mate.

Syd - Oh man, chewy, thick noodles are Zoloft to me. Heat makes me stabby - why it can't be in the 70s like it's supposed to?

Peter the Greek - Well I didn't have a Greek mom to feed me all the stuff you make, so I guess we're even. :p

Jeff - Hey, at least it's only $10! And you can use it for other things - I'm totally gonna use mine to make tuna-noodle casserole.

Heather said...

Coco - I guess you can eat soup whenever you want, I just don't like standing over a steamy pot when it's hot. Also, OBAMA!!!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Yeah, I live near Coco - I want the soup but not the steam. And Obama, to you, too! This is glory week!

Emiline said...

That does seem like some cool weather for this time of year. It makes it hard for summer activities...swimming and stuff.
It'll probably get warm in no time.

The soup sounds very good - so authentic. I've never had udon before. There's an Asian market in a town close by, so I'll have to look for them.

MrOrph said...

This looks really interesting. I may try to wok this with some shrimp or crispy pork butt pieces.

I hope you don't mind.

We Are Never Full said...

Gotta say, I feel for you on the weather thing. We just got to 80 degrees a few days ago. Our spring was the first real spring we've had in years - and i was bitching about it. bad girl. right now it's 69 degrees and i'm wearing a light sweater and tomorrow it's supposed to reach 98 degrees. explain that to me?

sometimes you just can't fight the feeling anymore... have you forgotten what you've started fighting for?

soup sounds nice... tomorrow i'll be singing a different tune.

Nikki Miller-Ka said...

It has been 100+ degrees for three days straight. I wish I were there in Portland right now. I dream of cooler weather.

I do not like udon at all. I'd rather eat real live worms. But your broth, that is something I'd like to try. I'd do mussels and clams, maybe some cellophane noodles. But no udon. Sorry LOL

Heather said...

Jen - Yay, Obamma jamma! You can always order out for the soup.

Emiline - You should totally find some! If you like soupy, chewy noodles you will love these.

Mr. Orph - I can't blame you for wanting to add some more protein, I really was just too lazy to go to the store. :)

Amy - Nabemono is a candle in the window on a cold and rainy night.

Nikki - Well use some somen, silly!

giz said...

So this is all foreign to me - I feel like I'm on a learning curve - I basically understood the cursing and weather report and then got lost. I'm loving learning from you

Mike of Mike's Table said...

That looks really good! My complete ignorance and inability to even combine half of those ingredients in my head is incentive for me to learn more about Asian cooking. Keep these sorts of dishes coming!

And pff, I'll take your 60° weather--down here its drought/fire season with 90+ weather on a daily basis. Boo! :-/

Kevin said...

That nabemono looks really tasty. I like all of the vegetables in it.

peter said...

LOVES me some nabe. But you should never simmer the bonito; add it after you take the kombu/water off the heat and let it steep.

Nilmandra said...

Looks delicious! Definitely a good idea to add the shitake mushrooms. I almost always add them to my soups because of the intense mushroomy flavour, and they are yummy too!