Jan’s friends are coming to town for the Quilt Festival, for me this means several special dinners and this year Jan has ordered a special breakfast. For the first meal on Friday I decided to do a fish stew. Most of the European stews were out, because Barbara doesn’t like tomatoes. Japanese Yosenabe seemed the obvious choice.
Note: I was so intent on serving the the yosenabe, that I forgot to take a picture of the final dish. Barbara took the only photo of her dish, as she waited for everyone to be served.
Yosenabe is a type of nabemono or one-pot dish. 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. The last time I made this dish I threw in everything but the kitchen sink. This time I plan to make a simpler version with fewer ingredients. That does not mean that I am eliminating all of the “exotic” ingredients.
I know that the method of throwing everything into the pot at once produces a rather lackluster soup. Some ingredients are overcooked and it is hard to get all of the fluffy 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 are too bulky before being cooked, you can avoid over cooking the delicate vegetables.
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. Their flavor is more delicate than European leeks, but they may be hard to find. Many recipes replace this ingredient with leek or green onion.
I am using two kinds of noodles. Shirataki noodles are made from the starch of the devil’s tongue yam. These are sometimes called cellophane noodles, because they are translucent. I am also using rice stick noodles. These are usually softened before being added to the pot.
This is a very flexible soup, but I wanted to emphasize the fresh seafood. I decided not to use kamaboko, because—while it is a common ingredient in yosenabe—it is a processed Japanese steamed fish paste loaf. I chose not to use salmon, another common ingredient in many of the Internet recipes, because its strong flavor tends to drown out the other flavors in the pot. I finally chose: cod and rock fish for the fish, as well as shrimp, scallops, clams and mussels.
After Dinner Note: I have known these women for almost 35 years. When they get together they are constantly talking. There was near complete silence for the first 20 minutes of dinner. Just slurps and the occasional grunt of “More!” It was quite satisfying praise.
Karl’s Yosenabe II
3 cups water
1 (6-inch) piece kombu
1 oz. dried, shaved bonito
32 oz. fish stock
½ cup mirin
½ cup soy sauce
10 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps cross cut
6 oz shungiku (chrysanthemum leaves)
5 oz. shirataki, white (yam noodles)
5 oz. rice stick
4-inch piece daikon radish, sliced
2 negi (Welsh onion) sliced on an angle into 2-inch pieces
½-1 lb. rock fish, cut into 1-inch pieces
½-1 lb. cod, cut into 1-inch pieces
20 bay scallops
10 medium shrimp
Preparing the Dashi
1. 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.
Preparing the Nabe
4. 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. 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. Add some cool water to the boiling water in the pot and soften the rice stick noodles for 15 minutes. Rinse in cool water and set aside.
8. Slice the daikon into 1/8 in half rounds. And cut the negi, on the diagonal, into 2-inch pieces. Set these aside.
9. De-bone the fish fillets and cut them into bite sized pieces.
10. If necessary peel the shrimp.
Tip: While leaving the shells on adds to the flavor of the broth, several of my diners do not like struggling with the shells. I left on just the tails.
Assembling the Nabe
11. Combining the fish stock, dashi, mirin, and soy sauce in your pot and bring it to a simmer.
Tip: The last time I made this I tried to prepare it at the table with an electric pot. This pot was not nearly big for all of the ingredients I tried to fit into it. This time I used my large (10 quart) Dutch oven. The dramatic lifting of the lid made for a good presentation and the cast iron retained to heat of the stove long enough to keep the soup warm throughout the meal.
12. Add the the shirataki mushrooms and cook them for five minutes.
13. Arrange the stems of the shungiku, rice stick, daikon, negi, rockfish, cod, in decorative groupings around the pot.
Tip: You may have one big group for each ingredient or distribute them into smaller groupings around the edge of the pot.
14. Cover the hot pot and bring it to boil over high heat and then reduce the heat. Simmer for 5 minutes
15. Push the other ingredients aside to make places for the scallops and shrimp and add the clams and mussels artfully around the other ingredients, pushing them into the soup.
16. Arrange the leafy parts of the shungiku in the center of the pot, pushing them into the soup.
17. Put the lid back on, and continue simmering for 5 – 10 minutes until all of the ingredients are cooked through and the shell fish have all opened.
Tip: Discard any that have failed to open.
18. Transfer the hot pot to the dining table and serve immediately.