Winter is here, which means it’s soup weather at our house. One of our favorite recipes that I brought back from Japan is 鍋物 nabemono. The literal translation is pot (nabe) + thing (mono), and it is a catchall for many of the delicious one-pot stews enjoyed all over Japan. Each region has their own version of nabe, but the best thing about this dish is its versatility – you can put just about anything in the pot and it will still be tasty. Well, maybe second best. The best thing is really how it's eaten. The pot is set in the middle of the table on a portable stove. Everyone gathers around, uses their chopsticks to grab what they want, and sits back to enjoy a meal together. Often with warm sake. When the stew bits are gone, you simply add more, let it heat back up, maybe another round of sake, then dig in again. This is the go-to meal for fall and winter get-togethers. It’s simple, delicious, and filling.
I will share a very basic miso nabe recipe here, but this is just a guideline. Nabe is totally a clean out the fridge dish. There are tons of variations – everything from the soup base to the stew ingredients are customizable! We usually get our mushrooms fresh from the Asian market, but you can use whatever you find at the local grocery… if you want mushrooms at all. Make nabe your own, using vegetables and proteins you enjoy. Then gather around with family and friends and enjoy the experience.
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 50 minutes
Japanese sweet potato
Snow peas (handful)
4 cups hot water
2 teaspoons dashi granules
4 tablespoons miso paste
1. Prepare your ingredients. Cut the sweet potato and carrots into ¼ inch thick slices, the carrots on a diagonal. Cut the onion into thin wedges. The best pieces of cabbage are the ones with more rib than leaf, so trim off the top two inches or so and keep for another dish. Slice the remaining cabbage in 2-inch chunks. Separate the leaves when you put them in the pot. Cut the green onions into 2-inch pieces. Leave the mushrooms and snow peas whole. Just trim off the ends. Cube the chicken.
2. Arrange your ingredients in a heavy bottom pot or saucepan with a lid…wide and medium depth is best. Place the ingredients in sections around the pot, so it is easier to find what you want when it’s time to eat. Alternate colors and textures to create a more aesthetic presentation. The green onion should rest on the top.
3. For the soup stock, simply mix the hot water, dashi, and miso till dissolved.
4. Pour the soup stock over the stew ingredients. Cook on medium high until it simmers. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes (or until the ingredients reach desired tenderness).
5. Place the whole pot in the middle of the table. Let everyone pull out their favorite bits. Enjoy.