Millefeuille is a widely known as a French dessert meaning “a thousand leaves” due to its numerous layers of pastry and cream. There’s a lovely play of textures with the crispy pastry and the smooth cream, and if you add fruit to the mix you get a nice added brightness as well.
But, enough about this beautiful dessert. What is this “millefeuille nabe”?
I saw numerous recipes on TV shows and blogs in Korea where a certain dish by the name of “millefeuille nabe” was taking the food world by storm, and with a little research learned that despite its amazing appearance is completely doable. Inspired by the dessert, millefeuille nabe consists of ingredients layered on each other (hence the name). As you can see by the photos of the final product, this dish is incredibly beautiful and will definitely wow any guest you serve it to.
Also, I don’t know about the rest of the world but the weather in Korea right now is freezing, and this dish was piping hot and warmed me up.
Ingredients I used (serves 4 normal people, 3 hungry people)
For the broth:
1 L of water
4 kombu kelp pieces
150 ml cheongha (or sake)
100 ml mirin
100 ml soy sauce
3 tbs sugar
For the millefeuille part:
1 head of medium-sized nappa cabbage
a bunch of perilla leaves
a bag of mung bean shoots (beansprouts will do, but I prefer using the fatter/sweeter mungbean shoots)
1 small kabocha pumpkin
1 medium carrot
2 shiitake mushrooms
a bunch of maitake mushrooms
For the dipping:
4 raw eggs
any dipping sauces you prefer
a deep pot to make your broth
a shallow pot for your nabe
a portable induction cooktop (you can just cook it on your normal stove if you don’t have one, and just serve the cooked version)
*attention* like my other recipes, please feel free to use anything you have lying in your fridge. But the more colorful your vegetables are, the more beautiful your layers are going to be.
On to the making of the broth! All the recipes I saw called for a clear broth made with ingredients like kelp, dried sardines, katsuobushi, onions, welsh onions, etc. but I prefer a soy-sauce based broth, similar to what is used in sukiyaki.
In a pot, bring the water and kelp to a boil. As soon as it begins to boil, remove the kombu. Then clap for the kombu because it has served its purpose. You can save the kelp to put in your miso soups.
Bring to a rolling boil for the alcohol to cook off. This will take about five minutes. Make sure you taste and adjust the broth to your liking. Remember, the broth will become delicious and rich when the other ingredients are simmered in it, so don’t be surprised if it tastes a bit lackluster. Just make sure the broth is not too salty.
These are what perilla leaves and mung bean sprouts look like. Perilla leaves are very similar to the Japanese shiso leave, but I think the perilla leave has a bit more of a peppery taste. If you love aromatic herbs and leaves, you will love them. Mung bean sprouts are a bit crispier than the normal soy bean sprouts. Soy bean sprouts can get a bit tough if they are over-cooked, and they can have an unpleasant taste if not cooked enough. Mung bean sprouts are much more easier to cook, because they taste good raw or cooked.
I asked my butcher for a shabu shabu beef but sliced a bit thicker than the normal meat. This is completely my preference, but I just wanted a more heftier slice of beef. You can use any meat you want including pork or chicken.
Now, time for assembly!
*Attention* Do as I say, not as I do. Cut your assembled layers into two or three sections (this depends on the size of your cabbage and other ingredients). Then, put the layers in the pot with the cut side up, that is the edge of the layer with the most clean cut. Take a look at my layers below, I laid them sideways. This was a mistake. Based on the size of my cabbage, I should have cut them in three parts and laid them cut side up. That way, you will have a much neater looking nabe. BUT. Nonetheless, it looks amazing and tasted amazing, so don’t fret if your layers aren’t perfect.
The reason this recipe calls for a cook top is that you can show people this beautiful dish before it gets simmered in the broth. Cover up the pot with a lid, walk slowly towards the dining table with the pot, and then slowly lift the lid and prepare to get complimented!
For my dipping sauces I used a beaten raw egg, and a random soy sauce, garlic, sesame seed sauce I bought while in Hong Kong. I know a lot of you might be turned off by the raw egg, but if you have nice, fresh eggs you will not get sick. Dipping everything into the egg not only tastes rich and delicious, but it also cools down the ingredients so you can get everything down faster (trust me, it’s that good).
The best thing about having hot pot is that once you eat all the ingredients you are left with a extremely flavorful umami-filled broth. Please, do not throw this soup away. Many Korean shabu shabu restaurants will use this broth in other ways to finish off the meal. Simmer some leftover rice in it for a warming savory rice porridge (“juk” in Korean) or throw in some noodles. I used my leftover broth to make some kick-ass udon.