Kani (Crab) Nabe

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Kani (Crab) Nabe

Kani-nabe-low-resThis crab nabe is two dishes in one: add steamed rice to the leftover soup broth and the result is a savory rice porridge called kani-zosui. The ginger and garlic are not traditional ingredients, but they make for a very flavorful dish. This is the best sort of Japanese winter comfort food.

While most nabe are cooked at the table on a portable burner, you can arrange the ingredients in a pot, cook it on the stove, and bring it piping hot to the table. If doing this, divide the ingredients in two pots so there is a second installment ready and hot when the first one runs out.

serves 4 | start to finish: 45 minutes

INGREDIENTS:
8 cups nabe broth (recipe below)
2 Dungeness crab, each 1 1/2 to 2 pounds
1 medium to large napa cabbage, about 2 1/2 pounds
2 thin leeks or Japanese negi
2 medium carrots
2 9-oz packages of firm tofu or yaki-dofu (broiled or grilled tofu)
2 3.5-oz packages enoki mushrooms
1 bunch edible chrysanthemum leaves, called kiku or shungiku, about 1 pound
4 cups ponzu sauce
2 cups Japanese rice
4 eggs
2 scallions or green onions, chopped
soy sauce for topping
optional: chopped fresh ginger and garlic, about 2 tbs each

STEPS:
Add the nabe broth—or 8 cups water and powdered dashi soup mix—to a clay nabe or large pot and set over medium heat.

Clean the crab and, using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, cut each arm segment off at an angle to allow easy access to the crabmeat. Remove all meat from the body of the crab and set aside in a bowl.

For a richer-flavored soup stock, add the crab shells to the broth and simmer gently for 20-30 minutes, making sure to strain thoroughly before continuing with the recipe.

Wash the rice thoroughly in several changes of cold water and place in a medium saucepot with a tight-fitting lid. Add 2 1/2 cups cold water and, with the lid on, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low medium and allow the rice to steam until fully cooked (about 15 minutes).

While the rice cooks, cut the napa cabbage lengthwise in half and remove the core. Starting at the base, slice the lower portion into 1/4-inch strips. The upper, leafier portion can be cut into 1/2-inch strips. Add the thinner strips to the pot and simmer 10 minutes before adding the rest of the vegetables.

Cut the leeks and carrots into 1/4-inch slices on a diagonal. Trim the bottom and any dirt off the enoki mushrooms, making sure they are still attached at the base. Cut the tofu in 1-inch cubes and remove the chrysanthemum leaves from the main stem.

Add half of the leeks, carrots, tofu, napa cabbage, and all of the crab legs and let simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes, until the crab is cooked through. Add the chrysanthemum leaves and replace the lid briefly to allow the leaves to wilt. Arrange the unused ingredients on a platter and provide each guest with a small bowl of ponzu (a tangy, citrus-soy sauce) to dip vegetables, tofu, and crab in.

Serve at the table, allowing guests to help themselves from the central pot and adding more vegetables as it empties.

When all the nabe ingredients have been used up, add the rice to the pot. Crack the eggs into a bowl and scramble before adding, along with garlic and ginger, if using. Cook, covered, for 10 minutes before adding the crab and cooking another 5 minutes. Serve with chopped scallions and soy sauce.

Nabe Broth

Most nabe dishes start with dashi—the classic Japanese stock of kelp (konbu) and shavings of bonito tuna (katsuoboshi). You can buy dashi mix in stores that have a good selection of Asian ingredients, but it is easily made and the ingredients have a long shelf life. If you choose to use a prepared mix, follow the directions on the package before adding the soy sauce, mirin, sake, and salt.

serves 4 | active time: 30 minutes

8 cups water
4-inch by 10-inch piece of konbu (kelp)
1/3 cup (10g) katsuobushi flakes
4 tbs soy sauce
4 tbs mirin
4 tbs sake rice wine
1 tsp salt

Kani-RicePour the water into a large saucepan and add the konbu. If possible, allow the seaweed to soak for up to two hours before proceeding.

Set the water and konbu over medium heat and simmer for about 10 minutes before turning off the heat. Do not let boil. After 10 minutes, remove the konbu, add the katsuobushi flakes, and let sit for 10 minutes before straining the dashi. Do not press the solids to extract extra liquid, as this leads to cloudy stock.

Add the soy sauce, mirin, sake, and salt, and stir to incorporate.

Note: you may save the konbu and katsuobushi for a second, slightly less flavorful, batch of stock called number two dashi.

Recipe from Warming up the Nabe Pot, by Tara Austen Weaver, Edible Seattle Jan/Feb 2015

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