|Still working on hot pot photography, admittedly|
Root vegetables are, as a category, one of my favorite foods. I go wild for sweet potatoes and yams—in fact, I eat one for breakfast most mornings—and I love squash, pumpkin, and parsnips with all my heart. Chinese and Japanese tubers formed the base of this hot pot; I got to work cutting lotus root, daikon, and carrot, and peeling and cutting taro root. Though I did have to boil the lotus root for a bit longer, as the thick Swiss cheese-looking plant matter takes a bit longer to cook than the other ingredients, I eventually piled the uniformly cut vegetables on top of two sheets of kelp, meant to be kombu but hey, I couldn’t find everything in my sick haze at New May Wah, added water, and boiled then simmered the pot’s contents. The addition of shitake and shimeji mushrooms and miso pastes came next (two variants, shiro, which I believe is only lightly fermented, and a standard “white type”) and a bit more simmering further melded the rich savory flavors together. My lesson in Japanese hot pot complete, I proudly—ecstatically, even—slurped the piping hot soup and instantly felt marginally better. I’d used a stainless steel pot and the wrong type of seaweed, but the final product was delicious and nutritious. I was sold.
|Sunday night's installment|
I used my birthday hot pot kit for the first time on Sunday night. This time, Andrew and I shopped together, in a much more civilized fashion at New May Wah and the farmer’s market, for the ingredients to make a kabocha pumpkin hot pot with udon. This time, the broth was made with water steeped for 5 hours with dried shitake mushrooms (I executed this step in advance), mirin, and soy sauce. The preparation of the ingredients was very much the same: Andrew and I layered bite size pieces of carrot, taro root, daikon, sliced napa cabbage, shimeji and the reconstituted shitake mushrooms that that flavored the broth, and of course, the cornerstone kabocha pumpkin on top of two sheets of kombu, pouring the mushroom water-mirin-soy sauce broth on top. We brought everything to a boil, and quickly reduced the temperature to simmer for about 10 minutes before adding the udon noodles, simmering for 10 minutes more. We devoured the contents as best we could—it was delicious, hearty, warming on a foggy night, and oh-so satisfying. After a couple hours of climbing last night, we came home to a nearly full pot, and added a couple of eggs after the contents reached a convenient boil once more. We’d both been thinking about this dinner all day! We’re not entirely purposefully imitating Japanese climbers, but very simplistically, their technical skill on the rock and nourishment through healthy and delicious dishes are just two realms of expertise that I aspire toward.