Wednesday, February 25, 2009


When Americans think of Japanese food, the first thing that comes to mind is usually sushi or maybe Benihana's. But there is so much more to Japanese cuisine than raw fish or scary chefs throwing knives around. Recently I have discovered an all encompassing love for nabe - the Japanese equivalent to a crockpot, it's a one-pot meal.

I bought my nabe pot at the local recycle shop for 300 yen. Since I am lazy and wasn't exactly sure which vegetables I should buy for my first endeavor, I bought a pre-made nabe set (鍋セット) and some pre-made soup mix from a popular restaurant chain Aka-kara (赤から) that is a nice blend of spicy and sweet. Add some tofu and some thinly sliced pork and I was ready to go. Nabe is usually done table-side but I don't have a fancy set-up in my apartment so I put it on the stove with the burner on low, threw everything in together, and waited until it was good and cooked. It was so so delicious! And I cooked some rice to soak up the remaining broth. Yummy!

My second go at nabe was some chanko nabe, made from another pre-made set from the grocery store. It was only okay, but I'm not entirely sure I made it correctly either. The base is usually made from miso but I used chicken consomme instead and dipped the veggies in the sauce that came with the package. It was a little too salty for my taste and I had this niggling feeling that maybe I was supposed to cook with the sauce, not just use it as a dip, but since I can't really read the instructions, I just guessed.

My third go was the piece de resistance. I went all out and made sukiyaki nabe (すき焼き鍋). I bought some thinly sliced premium beef (from right here on the Atsumi peninsula) the same nabe set as before, pasteurized eggs, and tofu.  None of this was cheap, but I hoped it would be well worth it. I made the broth myself from sake, soy sauce, sugar, and water. The first night I was a little heavy handed on the soy sauce and it was a little to salty tasting but the second night (because there are always tons of leftover veggies) I got it just right. Once everything was cooked, I cracked an egg in my bowl and then dipped the veggies and meat in the raw egg. It tasted awesome. I seriously think that sukiyaki nabe might be my favorite Japanese dish of all time.


And after. It tasted great.

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