Suggested Ingredients (3-4 Servings): About 10 oz./300 g of meat, poultry, or/and fish About 35 oz. / 1000 g of vegetables, mushrooms, tofu, shirataki clear noodles etc. Example: 1 pack (26.45 fl. oz./750 g) of nabe soup base 11 oz./300 g of meat 18 oz./500 g of cabbage 4 oz./100 g of moyashi bean sprouts 2 g/50 g of baby corn 4 oz./100 g of mushrooms 10 g/270 g of tofu (not in the photos here)
1. Cut all the ingredients into bite pieces.
2. Pour the soup base into a pot and bring to a boil.
3. Add meat, poultry, or/and fish first.
4. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Specifically, put hard-to-heat root vegetables and other hard ingredients first, followed by leafy greens and soft other foods such as tofu, which are easier to heat, last.
5. Serve in a bowl and ready to enjoy!
Tips for Better Hot Pot Flavor
As we have described the basic recipe above, nabe is an easy-to-prepare and error-free dish that requires only a soup base, ingredients, and a pot to simmer, but of course we want to make it tasty as well. So, we will introduce some techniques to upgrade the flavor of your nabe. They are all easy to implement, so please give them a try!
1. Prepare the ingredients with extra care. Since nabe is eaten while simmering in a pot (It is the traditional way to eat nabe), 80% of the cooking process is preparation. If this is not done carefully, there will be a clear difference in the finished dish. The vegetables and other ingredients are cut in a way that suits each of them, which makes them taste exceptionally good.
Daikon Radish Slice thinly into bite-size pieces, such as half-moon slices or quarter (photo above). For the nabe you make with any of the soup base Maido offers, cut into slightly larger pieces and pre-boil them for a tasty result. When pre-boiling, peel the skin thinly and cut away the edges to prevent the daikon from falling apart. When cutting thickly, scoring with a knife can be used for better penetration of heat and flavor.
Hakusai Napa Cabbage
Cut around the core of hakusai with a knife, peel off one piece at a time, and wash well. Separate the leafy part from the hard white part, overwrap the leafy part, and cut into chunks of the same width. If the leaves are large, cut them lengthwise as well, but do not cut them too small because the size will be smaller as they are cooked. The hard white part does not get smaller much when cooked, so cut them small. Cut them diagonally with the blade of the knife, so that it can be cooked through and the flavor can be absorbed (photo above).
Mizuna Leaves Wash well, cut off the stem, and cut into desired lengths roughly from the ends. The fibers run lengthwise, so the longer the length, the more crunchy it will be, but it will be harder to eat.
Carrots Peel and cut into thin round slices or stick shapes. For the round slices, if you have a die-cut mold for vegetables, make use of it by cutting into round slices about 0.4"/1 cm thick and die-cutting. If you use a flower or heart-shaped one, your nabe will give you a gorgeous impression. There are Japanese style decorative cuts (photo above), so if you can try it to make your nabe even more gorgeous.
Mushrooms should not be washed in water, as soaking them in water will wash away some of their aroma, flavor, and nutrients, and make them watery. Larger mushrooms such as shiitake can be turned upside down and lightly tapped or brushed with a basting brush to remove any dirt stuck. If they are still dirty, wipe with a tightly wrung kitchen paper or dish towel. The stem part is hard but has a strong umami taste, so if possible, do not cut off the stem, but remove only the hard, black part at the tip of the stem. If the shiitake are small, leave them whole and cut a decorative slice on the surface of the mushrooms to make them easier to cook and allow the flavors to soak in. The key is to make a star shape on the surface (see photo). For large pieces, cut them in half or in quarters lengthwise. For most types of mushrooms, such as enoki and shimeji, which are densely packed with small mushrooms, you only need to remove the hard tips. If you are worried about dirt, rinse the dirty parts in cold water and pat dry with paper towel before cooking. After removing the dirt, rip the bunches into small pieces by hand so that they are easy to eat. For longer ones, cut them in half lengthwise to make them easier to eat.
By simply cutting the vegetables in a way that suits each kind like this, you can easily make your usual nabe more tasty. Basically, the cut surface of the vegetables should be as large as possible as the broth of the nabe will soak into the ingredients more easily. Keep this in mind as a tip.
2. Meat should be added after the broth has come to a boil. The second little trick to make your regular nabe even tastier is to add meat after the broth has come to a boil. It takes time for meat to cook through, so it is human nature to want to put it in as soon as possible. However, if you put the meat in before the broth boils, the nabe will be finished with the pieces of meat stuck to each other, and it may be difficult to eat. But if you put the meat (especially pork belly) in after the broth comes to a boil, you'll be amazed! The meat will be easily come apart in the broth, making it very easy to eat. You might think if you put meat in a boiling pot, it will get hard soon? But if you quickly add vegetables after the meat has loosened up, the boiling will stop immediately, so there is no problem. The meat should be added just as the nabe-tsuyu comes to a boil. Just keep this tip in mind. The meat in nabe becomes much easier and tastier to eat.
3. Put the negi leeks in upright. Next, let's take a look at a technique for negi, which are the supporting role of nabe! It is to put negi in the pot in an upright position. Negi are a typical type of vegetable that tend to fall apart when placed in a pot. It is because air bubbles from the bottom of the pot hits the negi and they fall apart. To prevent such a sad situation, when you put negi in the pot, put them in a vertical position. If you stand them upright, air bubbles will pass through them, and the possibility of them falling apart will be greatly reduced. For the same reason, mizuna leaves and some other vegetables can also be placed upright to allow them to cook through without losing their crunchiness. Tofu, another typical nabe ingredient that tends to fall apart, can be placed at the edge of the pot to reduce the chance of it being damaged by air bubbles or vegetables that move around in the pot.
4. Yakisoba noodles should be used for shime.
Lastly, let's look at an end part of the nabe dish, the shime. Shime-no-Ramen, which means ramen to end the meal, is common along with shime-no-zosui, which means porridge to end the meal, when Japanese people eat nabe. The last technique is to use yakisoba noodles for shime-no-ramen.
There must be people who think they prefer to have ramen noodles to yakisoba noodles, but ramen noodles get soggy pretty quick. In such cases, it is fantastic to use yakisoba noodles instead. In this way, the noodles will not get soggy soon and you can enjoy the delicious ramen at the end of the meal.
To summarize once more, here are four tricks that make your nabe tastier.
Prepare the ingredients with extra care.
Meat should be added after the broth has come to a boil.
Put the negi leeks in upright.
Yakisoba noodles should be used for shime.
Use these ideas to easily and brilliantly transform an ordinary nabe into an even more delicious feast.
In the next blog post, we will introduce the konnyaku noodles that make your nabe even healthier!
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