A Thousand Leaves of Warming Deliciousness: Millefeuille Nabe

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.

(source: taste.com.au)

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.

Add mirin, cheongha, and sugar.

Stir around for the sugar to dissolve.

Add the soy sauce.

Once you add the soy sauce, it will look like you are cooking coca cola. Do not panic.

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.

I also sliced up some pumpkin and carrots. Slice them thinly.

Wash your cabbage carefully. I pulled mine apart leaf by leaf before washing them.

Now, time for assembly!

Lay your biggest leaves of cabbage first.

Then lay some perilla leaves.

Lay down some beef strips (I cut mine in half and they fit perfectly on the leaf).

Lay down a few slices of pumpkin.

Lay down some carrot slices.

Now another layer of cabbage.

Perilla leaves. Then add another layer of beef and carrot (I chose to put kabocha only on the first layer because I didn’t have many slices in the first place).

Tah-dah. You should have three layers of cabbage all in all.

Before you put the layers in to your pot, put some mung bean sprouts on the bottom of your pot.

*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.

Cut designs on the tops of the shiitake mushrooms and put them in the middle, along with the maitake mushrooms.

(21) DSC_0029
Ugh. So pretty, even though it isn’t perfect and all you needed to do was arrange the ingredients in a special way.

DSC_0030 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!

(23) DSC_0033
My mom bought me this cooktop in Hong Kong, so the menu is in Chinese but thank God it has pictures for the settings. There is a huguo (hot pot) setting.

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).

Now all you need to do is wait for everything to cook.

So delicious and warms your body in the right places!

Ah, the beauty of family style meals. Everyone can stick their chopsticks into the pot and choose whatever they want to eat.


So 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.

The noodles really suck up the flavor of the soup and are perfect to end a meal.

Enjoy while piping hot!


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