The weather is getting colder and the leaves are barely clinging to the trees; for Jeff and me, our cravings for nabe (Japanese hotpot) are starting to kick in.
Our apartments in Japan, like most Japanese buildings, weren’t insulated, and they turned into veritable ice boxes the moment the barometer dropped. We could even see our breath in Jeff’s place.
Cooking turned from a beloved hobby into a freezing chore; I hated getting up from the warmth of the kotatsu to venture into the freezing kitchen(ette) outside of the main room to make myself something to eat. When I did, I could barely feel my fingers by the time I was done, and forget about doing the dishes. The one good thing about cooking in the winter was that I could let any leftovers sit out on the stove (covered of course) and not have to worry about them going bad or getting moldy, since my entire apartment basically functioned as an extension of my fridge.
Luckily, nabe are easy, filling, cheap recipes that are perfect for the winter months. You pick a broth, throw in some meat (or tofu) and veggies, let it all boil for a bit to get everything nice and soft, et voila.Our favorite is kimchi nabe, which uses kimchi base and miso for the broth, but there are dozens of variations out there to try. You can cook nabe on any regular stove top, but most of the time we used a little one-burner camping stove to cook with so we didn’t even need to leave the kotatsu.
Kimchi Nabe (Hotpot)
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
yields ~10 bowls
- 1c kimchi base
- 1/4c miso paste
- 8c water
- 1/4 lb thinly sliced pork or beef OR 1/2 lb chicken breast, cubed OR 1 box firm tofu, drained well and cubed
- 1/4 head Chinese cabbage
- 1 small yellow onion
- 1 leek
- 1 carrot, peeled
- 6 medium shiitake mushrooms
- Cut veggies into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
- Cut meat, or drain and cube tofu. Set aside.
- Fill pot with water. Add kimchi base and miso. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Add more kimchi base or miso to taste.
- If using meat, add meat and boil until cooked through. If using tofu, add tofu and boil for 5 minutes.
- Add veggies. Cover and let simmer until soft, about 30 minutes.
- Serve piping hot (and enjoy while nestling under a kotatsu. 😉 )
What’s your favorite winter recipe? Let us know in the comments! Image sources: Featured image, My Cooker, eating at the kotatsu