Yosenabe is a type of nabemono or one-pot dish. At first glance the Yosenabe recipes on the Internet were very similar and the directions were few (i.e. chop everything up, throw it into the pot and cook until done).
The traditional nabe pot is a fairly deep, round bottomed pot with a wooden lid that fits inside the edges of the pot. I am using a wide 2 inch deep flat bottom electric pot. For the amount of soup I made, a 3 inch deep pot would have been better. I struggled to keep the soup from boiling over onto the table.
Having made Yosenabe before, I knew that the method of throwing everything in at once produces a rather lackluster soup. Some ingredients are overcooked and it is hard to get all of the leafy ingredients into the pot at the beginning. One recipe by Casey gave me the method on how to bring the dish together. By par boiling some of the ingredients that take longer to cook, or that might stick together while cooking, you can avoid over cooking the delicate vegetables.
The ingredients for this dish include some that I had not used before trying to make a traditional Yosenabe. Fortunately, if you know where to look you can find most foreign ingredients in San Jose.
Kombu: Like many Americans making Japanese food I tend to go strait to the jar of HonDashi, the dried soup base. My problem with this ingredient is that I am never sure how much of the little pellets to use. Too little and the broth is flat. Too much and all you taste is fishy bonito.Since I was planning to blog about this dish, I thought I would make my dashi from scratch. Kombu is the editable kelp that you steep with shavings of dried bonito to make the classic Japanese broth.
Shungiku: Chrysanthemum leaves have fluffy leaves, a distinctive flavor and aroma, and about a five inch stem. Rinse well, check for any wilting or rotting leaves and trim the stems. This gives you essentially two vegetables. The fluffy leafy part and a broccolini-like stem.
Negi: Welsh onions look and smell very similar to spring onions but they are about 2 feet long. They are more delicate than European leeks, but they may be hard to find. Many recipes replace this ingredient with leek or green onion.
Harusame and shirataki noodles: Both of these may be called cellophane noodles, because when they are cooked they are translucent. Harusame is made from mung bean starch and shirataki is made from the starch of the devil’s tongue yam. Harusame noodles come in several sizes, from bundles if tiny threads to substantial rods. For this dish I used the ones that were about the thickness of a bamboo skewer.
Kamaboko: This is a processed Japanese steamed fish paste loaf. It comes as an 1½ inch, rounded half cylinder attached to a board. It may be plain white or with a bright red skin (which is a just food coloring decoration). It is fully cooked, so it may be eaten as is with a little dipping sauce, but for this dish I added it as a garnish.
I made several other decisions in creating this dish. I chose not to use salmon, a common ingredient in many of the Internet recipes, because its strong flavor tends to drown out the other flavors in the pot. I choose two kinds of mushrooms, because Myr likes shiitake and Eilene likes enoki. I excluded “Western” ingredients, like broccoli, because I was trying to make the dish traditionally.
When I do my Sunday dinners, I am cooking for 5 hungry people and I usually plan to have at least 2-3 servings as leftovers. If you are feeding fewer people reduce the quantities or ingredients accordingly (some recipes had as few as 10 ingredients). This is a very flexible soup.
8 cups water
2 (6-inch) pieces kombu
1 1/2 oz. dried, shaved bonito
6 cups dashi
½ cup mirin
½ cup soy sauce
10 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps cross cut
4 oz. enoki mushrooms (one pakage)
8 oz shungiku (chrysanthemum leaves)
8-10 Napa cabbage leaves, sliced
4 oz. harusame (cellophane noodles), soaked in water for 15 minutes
7 oz. shirataki, white (yam noodles)
4-inch piece daikon radish, sliced
1 negi (Welsh onion) sliced on an angle into 2-inch pieces
½ lb. firm tofu, large dice
3 chicken thigh, boned, skinned, and cut into bite-size pieces
½ lb. red snapper, cut into 1-inch pieces
½ lb. cod, cut into 1-inch pieces
20 bay scallops
10 medium shrimp
½ cake Kamaboko, sliced
1. Preparing the Dashi: Add warm water and kombu to a stock pot and let it steep for 30 minutes.
2. Bring the stockpot to a boil over medium heat. Remove the kombu and add the bonito and stir it once to mix in. As soon as the liquid boils again, decrease the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove any scum that appears on the surface.
3. Turn off the heat and let the liquid steep for 15 minutes. Strain it through a fine sieve or cheesecloth. Don’t squeeze the bonito flakes because it would make the dashi cloudy. Discard the bonito flakes after use.
4. Preparing the Nabe: While the dashi is steeping, prep all of the other ingredients as follows and set aside.
5. Stem the shiitake mushrooms and cross cut their caps. Cut dirty roots off of the bundle of enoki mushrooms and break it into two pieces. Set these aside.
6. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and holding the chrysanthemum leaves by the stems blanch them for 15 seconds and shock them in ice water. Drain the chrysanthemum and cut the stems from the leafy parts and set aside.
7. Do the same for the Napa cabbage leaves, cutting them into 1 inch slices.
8. Add some cool water to the boiling water in the pot and soften the harusame noodles for 15 minutes. Rinse in cool water and set aside.
9. Drain and rinse the shirataki noodles. Dice the tofu. Slice the daikon into 1/8 in half rounds. And cut the negi, on the diagonal, into 2-inch pieces. Set these aside.
10. Cut the chicken and fish into bite sized pieces.
11. Prepare the broth by combining the dashi, mirin, and soy sauce.
12. Pour the water out of the blanching pot, add 2 cups of the broth and bring to a simmer.
13. Poach the chicken for 2 minutes and the fish and scallops, separately, for 30 seconds each and set aside. You are not trying to cook the chicken and fish completely, but to just set the juices on their surfaces so that they do not glue themselves together in the pot.
14. Add the clams to the pot and cover it with a lid. After a minute, remove the lid and take out the clams as they open. Take out the remaining clams as they open, discarding any that do not open. Let the clams cool and tear off the shell that does not have the clam attached. Set aside.
15. Slice half of the loaf of the Kamaboko. (You may slice and serve the rest of the loaf as a side dish or as a hors d’oeuvre to the meal.)
16. Assembling the Nabe:
a. Place the Napa cabbage on the bottom of the pot.
b. Arrange the stems of the shungiku, enoki, harusame , daikon, negi, tofu, chicken, red snapper, cod, scallops and shrimp in decorative groupings on top of the cabbage. (You may have one big group for each ingredient or distribute them into smaller groupings.)
c. Insert the shirataki mushrooms vertically between some of the ingredient groups, saving one for the center.
d. Arrange the Kamaboko in a flower pattern with the last shirataki as the center.
e. Pour the broth from the poaching pot over the ingredients. Add more of the broth until the fluid level is about an inch from the lip of the pot. Cover the hot pot and bring it to boil over high heat and then reduce to a simmer.
f. After 5 minutes arrange the leafy parts of the shungiku around the edge of the pot, pushing them into the soup.
g. Add the clams-on-the-half-shell artfully over the soup, put the lid back on, and continue simmering for 5 – 10 minutes until all of the ingredients are cooked through.
17. Transfer the hot pot to the dining table and serve immediately. (If you are using an electric pot turn the temperature to low to keep the soup warm. Also, as people serve themselves, you may add more of the dashi to the pot.)
18. Serve with a selection of Japanese pickles, seaweed salad and we like fresh dofu as well.