This afternoon, I was thinking of what I should eat for lunch and absentmindedly opened the refrigerator to find that I had little bits of all kinds of vegetables that needed to be eaten before they spoiled.
For those of you who have the same problem, I think you should follow my example and cut up your ingredients to have a nabe dinner! Nabe means “cooking pot” and is often made out of clay, or steel. In my case I have both the Korean style black clay pot and the Japanese style clay pot as well. Since it’s just me at home, it was logical to use the Japanese style clay pot for one person.
Let’s begin! Oh, before I start. Remember that recipes are there simply to serve as a guide, so by all means feel free to use up whatever ingredients are in need of getting rid of at home!
I heart mushrooms. Of all kinds. But shiitake mushrooms, or pyogo in Korean, are a must to obtain a rich broth. Other mushrooms seem to act more like a vessel that harbors the flavor of the broth, but shiitake mushrooms have a lovely flavor and stand out by themselves.
Like I said, I like mushrooms. Saesong-yi mushrooms are really easy to find in Korean supermarkets. Usually, they’re the cheapest mushrooms out there so I tend to buy them often and are good to throw into anything (scrambled eggs, soup, grilled by themselves with a bit of salt, cooked alongside meat… possibilities are endless).
One really really old moo (daikon radish) that was withering away in the deepest crevice of my vegetable drawer. Wow. Just look at it… It doesn’t even look like a radish anymore haahaha. But no worries, I cut off the skin and everything was okay.
A baby nappa cabbage head. I think cabbage works best for hot pots because they really soak up the broth. If you don’t have cabbage in your fridge when making nabe, go out and buy some!
Broccoli! Because I had some in my fridge.
Mini carrots! They’re not only good for you but so cute. I get mine for about 7000 something won at Costco.
Pa! Which is Green onion in Korean. I got this pack on sale for only 1000 won. Make sure you look for the sale racks because you really can save on money. Vegetables can be VERY expensive in Korea so you should really try to explore your surroundings and look for the cheapest vegetables in the different supermarkets.
Sardines! These are pretty big because the bigger ones are better to make stocks. I used two.
Since I was lazy and didn’t really want to spend time soaking konbu kelp and boiling katsuobushi (bonito flakes) to make a dashi stock, I chose to use powdered dashi stock powder. For those of you who have demanding jobs or are students I recommend buying dashi stock powder- you can use it for so many things and it’s easy to use too.
The last thing you will need is a pot! I bought this clay pot in a Jusco in front of my house when I was in Hong Kong. The clay pots in Korea are usually black, and can be found in any supermarket.
Now let’s begin with the cooking!
First, to begin with the stock we need to dehead and degut the sardines. You can see above that I’ve split the sardine into half. You can see a black blob in the upper part of the sardine- these are the guts that you need to get rid of. They must be taken out, or the broth will become bitter.
After preparing the sardines, you can put them into the pot directly, or put them in one of these little sardine cages. It makes it easier to take them out later and also prevents little bones or bits of sardine getting into the soup.
For one person, add water until the line in the pot as seen above in the picture. Put the sardines in, and then turn on the heat. Wait for it to boil. While waiting for the water to boil, prepare the vegetables!
Peel the radish, slice it into half and then cut them rather thick so that they don’t fall apart while cooking. Also, in Korea it is believed that if they are cut thickly, the broth becomes richer.
Cut the bottom bit off of the saesongi mushroom.
Cut it into half.
Cut the two bits into half again.
Slice them lengthwise. You can cut them anyway you want to, but I would advise you to cut them thinly and big enough to pick up easily with chopsticks but small enough so that they fit well into the pot and cook quickly.
I decided to get a little fancy with the shiitake shrooms. It’s amazing how these two cuts on the mushroom can make them look really pretty and add a little pizazz to the nabe. I will show you how to make such cuts on the mushroom below:
Make on little cut on a shallow angle.
Make another shallow angled cut to meet the other angle.
Then do the same crossing the cuts you just made and:
Voila! Shroom flowers… I shall call them… shlowers.
Cut the nappa cabbage lengthwise and then cut them into half for optimal cabbage-placing in the pot.
Cut the broccoli into little mouth-sized pieces and cut the green onion stalks at an angle. Because it’s prettier.
All in all everything should look like this. Observe how I have cut the baby carrots. Haha I wanted them to look special so I cut little triangles out of the sides. I used two baby carrots, one little slab of radish, four cabbage leafs (there was too much cabbage. I would recommend using two leaves, but as I said I really like cabbage), a four inch piece of green onion, two florets of broccoli cut into half, two shiitake mushrooms, and one big saesong-yi mushroom (because I like shrooms).
I also decided to put mochii in my hot pot, because I chew rice cakes always taste good no matter what. I think white garae–dduk would also work really well for hot pot (the rice cake used to make ddukbokkee).
This is what the mochii looks like. I hear they taste really good after a toasting in the oven with sweet soy sauce or I think even pancake syrup or golden syrup. I am definitely going to try it.
Oh yes, I decided to use chicken in my nabe. I would recommend using chicken or beef; beef would be ideal because I think it makes the broth the richest, but I only had chicken at home.
Now, there is an art to putting the ingredients into the pot, because some cook faster than others.
First, when the broth starts to boil let it go on high heat for about ten minutes so the sardines can re-hydrate. Then put one teaspoon of dashi stock powder (two teaspoons for two people, three for three, and so on). I forgot to take a picture of this but put one teaspoon of mat-seul and also one teaspoon of soy sauce. Mat-seul (맛술), or mirin in Japanese, is like a sweet sake used in cooking. You could also use Cheong-ju (청주) which is an alcoholic beverage that can be found in any supermarket. Also, add a pinch of salt.
Boil for about ten minutes, remove the sardines and skim the foam on the surface of the broth. This can remove any bitterness or unwanted flavor. Make sure to skim throughout the cooking process to ensure a clear broth.
First, add the ingredients that help rich-en the broth (shiitake mushrooms, chicken, radish). I added a little bit more water.
After boiling for about fifteen minutes, add the ingredients that would take a little bit longer to cook (broccoli, carrots)
Cover with the lid and simmer for about five minutes.
Add in the rest of the ingredients and arrange them so that they look pretty.
Pretty, isn’t it?
I had too much cabbage and I wanted a pretty picture so I didn’t put it all in, and then after I took the picture I decided to just put it all in. The good thing about cabbage is that they take no time to cook- even if they won’t fit in the broth put the lid on and they will steam beautifully.
Switch on your electric mat and set the table for a soul-warming hot pot meal! I dipped the vegetables and meat in a sauce consisting of one teaspoon of soy sauce, three-four drops of apple vinegar, a dash of chili powder, and a sprinkle of crushed roasted sesame seeds.
I hope all of you enjoy my recipe 🙂
Until next time!