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 had planned to make my usual yosenabe for Sunday’s dinner, but the kids decided not to come over—daughter Eilene also ended up going out—so it was just my wife and myself. I cut down the number of ingredients to be enough for just two.
I had already bought some clams, mussels, rock fish, and some imitation-king crab legs (surimi) that I had planned to use in the larger soup. Since the cod, scallops, and shrimp I had bought were still frozen, I cut them out to reduce the size of this dish. I also eliminated the daikon radish and shungiku (chrysanthemum leaves) and negi (Welsh onion). To replace these greens, I used green onions and mizuna (spider mustard).
Karl’s Simple Yosenabe
3 cups water
1 packet DashiNoMoto (or use another methods for making dashi)
¼ cup mirin
¼ cup soy sauce
6 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps cross cut
5 oz. shirataki, white (yam noodles)
½ lb. rock fish
2 green onions, cut into 2 inch lengths, white and green parts kept separately
1 cup mizuna, cut into 2 inch lengths
3 pieces of surimi (imatation King crab legs), cut in half
1. Put the water in a small pot and bring it to a boil.
Note: There are several ways of making dashi. This is the method I prefer, but you are free to use one of the other methods.
2. Add the packet of DashiNoMoto and reduce the heat.
3. Simmer the dashi for 5 minutes and remove the packet.
Tip: Gently squeeze the packet to release the absorbed liquid.
Note: The wet packet is fairly fragile, do not squeeze so hard that you burst the bag and scatter the fish flakes into your soup.
4. Add the mirin, soy sauce, and mushrooms to the dashi.
Tip: Stem and cut a shallow X in each mushroom cap.
Note: Cutting the X is not necessary, but it makes the dull top of the mushrooms more attractive.
5. Cover the pot and simmer the soup for five minutes.
6. Put half a cup of water in a second small pot and add the clams and mussels.
Tip: I like to cook my shell fish separately, so that it is easier to identify any that do not open.
Note: If a shell fish does not open as you steam it, it means that it had died—for an unknown length of time—before you started to cook it. Don’t take any chances and throw it away.
7. Cover the pot, bring it to a boil, and reduce the heat.
8. After the shell fish have steamed for 4-5 minutes, remove any shells that have opened to a bowl.
Tip: If some shells have still not opened, recover the pot and continue steaming for another 3-4 minutes.
Note: Discard any shellfish, if they have not opened after nine minutes of steaming. To play it safe, I also discard the steaming water if I had any dead ones in the pot. If there were none, I add the remaining liquid to the soup pot.
9. (Optional step) Remove the half of the shell to which the clam or mussel is not attached.
Tip: A bivalve—like clams and mussels—take up a lot of space after they open up. If I want to reduce the volume of the soup I remove one of the shells.
Note: Sometimes, the clam or mussel will simply fall off the shell. In that case simply discard both shell haves.
10. Set the clams and mussels aside.
11. Add the noodles, rock fish, and the whit parts of the green onions to the soup.
12. Continue simmering the soup for three minutes.
13. Add the clams, mussels, mizuna and green parts of the onions to the soup.
14. Simmer the yosenabe for three more minutes.
15. Transfer the soup to individual bowls and nestle the pieces of crab legs into the soup.
Tip: Imitation crab is rather delicate and if you put it in to cook with the rest of the ingredients it will fall apart.
Note: Surimi is precooked and the residual heat of the soup is all that is necessary.