Spicy Kimchi Nabe

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kimchinabe2This spicy nabe incorporates Korean kimchi, daikon radish, thinly sliced pork and various mushrooms, with chewy udon noodles added at the end. It’s an excellent way to warm up a cold, winter night. Like all nabe dishes, feel free to add or delete vegetables, according to your preferences.

The broth for kimchi nabe is often made with a packaged base called kimchi no moto, available at most Asian grocery stores. I prefer the mixture of miso and gochujang pepper paste outlined below.

serves 4 | start to finish: 35 minutes

INGREDIENTS:
8 cups nabe broth (recipe below)
2 tbs brown or red miso
3-4 tbs gochujang pepper paste, according to taste
1 medium daikon radish, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium to large napa cabbage, about 2.5 pounds
14-ounce package of shirataki yam noodles
1/2 pound of mushrooms: shiitake, trumpet, or a mix
2 medium carrots, cut on a diagonal into 1/4 inch slices
2 thin leeks or Japanese negi, cut on a diagonal into 1/4 inch slices
4 cups kimchi (32-ounces)
2 pounds very thinly sliced pork (Asian stores mark this as “hot pot” meat)
2 14-ounce packages of tofu
1 pound of leafy greens: edible chrysanthemum leaves (kiku or shugiku), spinach, or garlic chives (called nira), according to taste
20-ounces (approx) fresh udon noodles

STEPS:
Pour the nabe broth into a large pot or clay nabe and set over a medium heat. Dissolve the miso and gochujang (or kimchi moto, if using) into the broth as it heats up. Add all the daikon radish and let simmer 10 minutes.

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 5 minutes.

Cut a star shape into each of the shiitake mushrooms, to help them cook evenly, and cut any trumpet mushrooms into 1/2-inch slices. Add half the mushrooms, skirataki noodles, and carrots to the pot and let simmer another 10 minutes.

Add half the leeks, kimchi, pork, and tofu, cover the pot and simmer another 5 minutes. Add half the greens and cover the pot again, to let the greens wilt, about 5 minutes.

Arrange the remaining ingredients on a platter and bring to the table. Let your guests serve themselves, and add ingredients, according to their preferences. When the soup pot empties out, add the udon noodles and let them cook until soft.

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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

INGREDIENTS:
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

STEPS:
Pour 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.

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