Japan Eats

Nabe party!

As winter approaches, Mieko Higano shares her recipe for kimchi nabe.

Kimchi nabe is just the thing for winter. Not only does this spicy hotpot taste great, many believe it can help ward-off colds and other ailments. In Japan, its common for friends to gather and cook some kind of nabe together.

And best thing about this dish is that its not about exact amounts of particular ingredients – just throw what you like in the nabe and enjoy!

Nira (chives) and Enoki mushrooms in the nabe.

Nira (chives) and Enoki mushrooms in the nabe.

‘Luxury’ version (serves 4 people)

  • Japanese ‘nabe’ (hotpot) with a diameter of roughly 25cm and depth of 8cm
  • 5 cups of water
  • 300g kimchi
  • 200g sliced pork (butabara style is best)
  • 350g of tofu
  • 3 to 5 shiitake mushrooms
  • 180g enoki mushrooms
  • 1 negi (Japanese onion)
  • 1/2 package of nira (Chinese chives)
  • 5 tablespoons of miso
  • 2 tablespoons of kochujan
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of Red pepper powder
  • 1 clove of grated garlic

Method
Before you begin cooking, slice the kimchi, pork and tofu into  into bite-sized pieces.  Be careful chopping the kimchi as you’ll have juice left over on the cutting board.  Be sure to add this liquid to the nabe, not just throw it away.

Next, divide the shiitake mushrooms into halves. Cut away the root section of the enoki mushrooms, and slice these too in half (if desired – I prefer not to). The negi should be cut diagonally into slices 1cm thick, and the nira into 10cm long sections (or whatever length fits into your hotpot).

Now put 1 to 2 tablespoons of sesame oil into the hotpot and cook the sliced pork together with about half the kimchi.  Once the meat begins to change color, add 5 cups of water, the rest of the kimchi and all the spices. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes (1 to 2 minutes after it has begun to boil).

Now add the tofu, shiitake, negi, enoki and cook for a few more minutes, until the tofu becomes hot.

Finally, put the nira into the nabe, boil for 1 minute and turn the heat off with the lid still on the hotpot. The idea is to cook the nira with the steam coming off the rest of the mixture.

‘Simple’ version (serves 2 people)

  • Japanese ‘nabe’ (hotpot) with a diameter of roughly 18cm and depth of 6cm
  • 2 or 2 1/2 cups of water
  • 150g kimchi
  • 1/2 tofu
  • 100g enoki mushrooms
  • 1/4 to 1/2 a package of nira
  • 2 tablespoons of miso
  • 1 tablespoon of kochujan
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper powder
  • 1/2 to 1 clove of garlic

Method

Follow the instructions as per the “Luxury” version, minus the directions for cooking the pork. Be sure to add the tofu, shiitake and nira last.

A few extra tips

  • I always use my monther’s homemade miso, but the usual miso you buy at the Japanese supermarket is also fine to use.
  • As just about every Korean cookbook will tell you, try to use old kimchi. It should taste almost sour.
  • Udon noodles can be added to the ‘luxury’ version, space permitting.

About Mieko

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