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Japanese Hot Pots: Comforting One-Pot Meals [Anglais] [Broché]

Tadashi Ono , Harris Salat

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22 septembre 2009
Wholesome, delicious Japanese comfort food, hot pot cooking satisfies the universal desire for steaming, gratifying and hearty meals the whole family can enjoy. In Japanese Hot Pots, chef Tadashi Ono and food journalist Harris Salat demystify this communal eating tradition for American home cooks with belly-warming dishes from all corners of Japan. Using savory broths and healthy, easy-to-find ingredients such as seafood, poultry, greens, roots, mushrooms, and noodles, these classic one-pot dishes require minimal fuss and preparation, and no special equipment—they're simple, fast recipes to whip up either on the stove or on a tableside portable burner, like they do in Japan.

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Hot pots, what the Japanese call nabe (nah-beh), are a fundamental style of Japanese home cooking, which means, by definition, they’re simple, fast, and easy to prepare. Many of us, though, have almost no point of reference for Japanese food beyond the local sushi bar, so cooking this cuisine can sometimes seem exotic and intimidating. But here’s a secret: with a little know-how, Japanese food is a cinch to make, especially these comforting dishes. In the pages that follow, we’ll walk you though everything you need to know, from understanding essential ingredients and seasonings to choosing the right cookware to learning basic techniques. So very soon, whipping up a gorgeous hot pot will become as second nature as roasting a chicken.

What is a Japanese Hot Pot?

Japanese hot pots are a delicious medley of foods poached in broth inside a single cooking vessel, a tempting combination of vegetables, tofu, noodles, seafood, poultry, or meat. They’re usually enjoyed in the colder months, but many of these dishes are also eaten year round. They evolved in Japan as wholesome, economical, and complete one-pot meals, especially with rice or noodles added at the finish as is customary. Compared to Western foods, they’re heartier than soup but not as dense as stew.

Think of hot pots as a mingling of tasty layers: broth, foundation ingredients (basic foods found in every dish), main ingredients, natural flavorings like soy sauce and miso, and accents and garnishes like wasabi. Each of these enhances the others and together they create the dish. And because the ingredients and flavorings cook in broth, they impart their essence to the liquid as well as to the other foods in the pot. So everything is nuancing everything else all the time--which is why these dishes produce such delightfully vibrant tastes even though they’re so easy to make.

Let’s take a peek at each of the layers to understand them better.

Broth (and Dashi)
Japanese hot pots come in three basic styles, based on the broth--water and kombu, flavored stock, or a thick broth. In the first, water simmers with kombu, a remarkable kelp (see “The Power of Kombu,” page 6). Foods poached in this liquid are then dipped into a sauce to add taste. In the second, stock is combined with flavorings like soy sauce or miso (a fermented paste) to create a complex broth that infuses the foods simmering in it. No need to dip. Finally, there’s a thick broth closer to a sauce than a stock, substantial enough to stand up to boldly flavored foods like beef, venison, or oysters.

Japanese-style chicken stock (page 32), mushroom stock, or even sake can form the basis of a hot pot broth, but dashi is the most common. For good reason. The Japanese word for “stock,” dashi is both a generic term and one synonymous with the classic stock made from kombu and dried, shaved bonito (a variety of tuna). This is the dashi we refer to throughout the book.

Kombu and bonito are both naturally preserved ingredients, and both remarkable. Giant kelp that can grow several yards long, kombu is dried into ribbons the thickness of cardboard. Bonito undergoes a more extensive transformation, the fish first filleted and boiled, then smoked, covered in mold, and sun-dried to the hardness of oak, a technique dating from the 1600s. All this culinary alchemy concentrates the ample umami naturally found in both ingredients (see “The Umm in Umami,” opposite page). And when they combine in dashi--incredibly--their flavor compounds synergize and pack an even greater palate-pleasing wallop.

Making dashi is straightforward: You soak and heat the kombu in water to extract its essence, remove it, then steep the bonito flakes in the liquid, like tea (see Dashi, page 30). Compared to a traditional Western stock, where bones, roots, and herbs are slow-simmered to tease out their essence, dashi is faster to prepare. And with just two ingredients, it’s also lighter, so its deep savory kick magnifies other foods rather than masks them, making dashi an incredibly versatile ingredient.

Foundation Ingredients
Every Japanese hot pot is cooked with a group of wholesome foods that bestow flavor, nutrition, and heft to the dish. These are the foundation ingredients, a humble, economical, and healthy assortment of roots, greens, onion, mushrooms, and tofu. Combine them with broth, natural flavor, and the main ingredients and you’ve got a deeply satisfying meal-in-a-pot. You may not be familiar with every food we describe here, but they’re all age-old Japanese staples that contribute their own singular flavors and textures. (Texture is about how food feels inside your mouth, a sensation as pleasing as taste to the Japanese palate.) Also, the vegetables here are in peak season in Japan during the colder months, making them the traditional foods for this cooking. All hot pot ingredients are readily available at Japanese and Asian markets (see Resources, page 139).

Napa cabbage: A type of Chinese cabbage (and sometimes called that), it’s the traditional workhorse of hot pot cooking, appearing in most recipes in the book. (In most cases we specify a particular way to slice these leaves. See “How to Slice Napa Cabbage,” page 52.) This nutritious Japanese staple has a delicate taste, transforming as it cooks from crispy and green to tender and sweet. While it simmers, too, its porous leaves work like a sponge to absorb broth and pull in lots of flavor. Look for crisp, fresh leaves that are yellow-green at the tips, turning white at the stem. Note that for a few hot pots, instead of napa, we use ordinary round green cabbage, also long cultivated in Japan. Green cabbage has a stronger, more pronounced flavor than napa cabbage, and isn’t as tender, but it works better for certain dishes. Use the green leaves only; discard the hard white core.

Daikon: A radish that looks like a giant white carrot, daikon can grow over a foot long and as thick as a baseball bat. Look for a firm root; when squeezed, it should feel like a taut balloon. In hot pots, daikon is eaten either cooked or grated raw. When poached, it develops a delicate sweetness and readily absorbs the flavors from a dish. Grated raw it adds a refreshing counterpoint, especially when matched with rich foods like oily fish. (Raw daikon also contains natural digestive enzymes that help assimilate said rich foods when eaten together.) When you peel a daikon, make sure to remove all of its thick, white skin to fully expose the glossy flesh. The middle of the root holds the sweetest flavor and is the best part for cooking. The tip, on the other hand, is spicy and fibrous; use it for grating. Daikon is usually precooked to soften it before it is added to a hot pot.

Negi: This remarkable onion has a sharp, acidic taste when raw that turns sweet and tender when simmered. We take advantage of both qualities in the recipes, pairing the bite of lightly poached negi with rich ingredients like pork belly to cut their fattiness, or cooking it all the way to add delectable sweetness to a broth. Negi also mellows the fishiness of seafood, adding a sappari (cleansing) quality to the palate, much like wasabi does for sushi. There are a number of varieties of negi, but we use Tokyo negi (also called naga negi), which is readily available here. Having long white cylinders that sprout green leaves, these onions grow up to 3/4 inch thick and 2 feet long. Unless we indicate otherwise, use the entire negi, including the green parts, but trim off any dry leaves. This onion is sometimes called “Japanese leek” (although not a leek) or “welsh onion” (no connection to Wales), but we’re sticking to negi, like in Japan. Finally, if you can’t find them, substitute two large scallions per negi in the recipes.

Japanese mushrooms: Autumn in Japan heralds the arrival of crisp hot pot weather--and the start of the country’s celebrated wild mushroom picking season. Japanese mushrooms lavish incomparable earthy, woody flavors and fragrance to hot pots, and add a seductive visual touch to these dishes. We use a quartet of cultivated varieties that are readily available at Japanese and Asian markets.

If you have trouble finding any of these mushrooms, substitute white button, brown crimini, or another cultivated variety of your choosing (but not portobellos, whose flavor can overwhelm a broth). Wild edible mushrooms like trumpets and chanterelles are fantastic, too. Almost any mushroom will add fragrance and flavor to a hot pot, so feel free to give different varieties a try. To clean mushrooms, wipe off any dust and dirt with a damp paper towel or cloth. You can store them in the refrigerator for two to three days; just wrap in a paper towel and place inside a sealed container before sticking them in the fridge.

Shiitake are the best known Japanese mushrooms, with the common variety of this bold fungi found in gourmet markets across the country. There’s also another type of shiitake often sold at Japanese markets called donko, with thicker caps that curl under. If you can find donko, use them because they have more potent flavor. (But regular shiitake are terrific, too.) Cut off the tough stems and discard before cooking, and halve any large caps to make them bite-size. Shiitake are also sold dried, which we reconstitute in water to make a stock for some recipes. Soak these whole, stems and all.

Shimeji are tender, straw-colored mushrooms that grow in clusters and have small caps that are 1/4 to 1/2 inch across. These mushrooms add more flavor than fragrance, infusing dishes with an appealing earthiness. They’re typically sold in 100-gram packages (about 31/2 ounces).

Enoki are delicate white mushrooms that grow in a dense clump, with tiny white caps sitting atop long, thin stalks. They ...

Revue de presse

“What a gorgeous, fun, inspiring, smart book! Its pleasures are twofold: first, Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat have written a delightful cultural history of one of Japan’s premier foods; second, they have compiled fifty accessible recipes guaranteed to please the American home cook. It is a must-have for all lovers of Japanese food.” --James Oseland, editor in chief of Saveur, author of Cradle of Flavor

“The international collaboration of Chef Tadashi Ono and culinary chronicler Harris Salat has brought forth a fine cookbook devoted to nabe, those marvelous Japanese cook-at-the-table, single-pot dishes that nourish and nurture warm friendships. This multitalented team shares a wealth of kitchen tips with their readers, spicing up good cooking advice with tasty tales.” --Elizabeth Andoh, author of Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen

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Amazon.com: 4.5 étoiles sur 5  85 commentaires
125 internautes sur 126 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Authentic home-style Japanese hot pot meals 6 novembre 2009
Par T. Goff - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
After living in Japan for three years, I was pining for something Japanese besides sushi. This book more than fills that need. It is beautifully laid out with lots of photos and easy-to-follow directions. The authors recognize that some of the ingredients and tools for these recipes could be difficult to find, so not only do they give suitable substitutes, they also provide websites of vendors who carry the unique items. There are plenty of sidebars offering explanations of why some things are done a certain way, including the right way to slice cabbage and why hot pot ingredients are added in a particular order. Another thing I love about a cookbook is when I can learn something about the dish, along with getting the recipe. I enjoy learning the origin of the recipe and/or why it's unique to a certain region. EVERY RECIPE has a story to go with it and many have serving options along with suggested side dishes.

Japanese hot pot meals are very family-oriented. In a Japanese home, the hot pot meal is cooked right at the dining table using a portable butane stove. Everyone just digs in or cooks their own favorites in the broth. Although a portable butane stove isn't something commonly found in an American home, it is easy enough to find either here at Amazon.com or at an oriental market. I have two of them, and they have been real lifesavers at pot lucks and during power outages. It's like taking my gas range with me, no matter where I go. So if you decide to invest in the butane stove, know that you will use it for more than the hot pot meals!!
39 internautes sur 39 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Easy to follow and Easy to make 26 octobre 2009
Par 77Mini - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
I have been following Harris Salat's blog for about 6 months and have been awaiting the arrival of the book anxiously. So far it has not disappointed. I have only done 2 of the recipes so far. Luckily (like the book states a number of time) these recipes do not mind being adjusted for tastes and available ingredients. And yet with common sense they turned out fantastic. Right now using cast iron dutch oven but will probably invest in either a chinese clay pot or a japanese danabe.
71 internautes sur 77 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Japanese comfort food 16 octobre 2009
Par Lisa - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
I grew up in Japan and this is authentic Japanese comfort food. Throw everything in one pot like a slow cooker but the best part is that you don't have to wait for hours for it to cook like in a slow cooker - everything is cooked in real time while you and your guests sit cozily around a table. There are recipes for vegetarians, seafood lovers and meat eaters. The photos are numerous and inspires one to call friends and get together.
28 internautes sur 28 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Busy mom of three loves this cook book! 7 décembre 2009
Par Ali Bean - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I recently bought this cook book and my three kids and I have been having a lot of fun exploring the recipes! At first I was a little scared that we wouldn't have access to the Japanese ingredients needed for some of the recipes but quickly discovered that the authors suggest alternatives for each and every item that may be hard to find in your neck of the woods. (i.e. A small Japanese onion can be replaced with two scallions). I like to make my kids simple, home cooked meals, and these recipes are very easy to follow and make great family meals! I highly recommend this cookbook.
20 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Warning: You will be HOT POT Obsessed!!! 13 janvier 2010
Par Nyranthalia Morgenstern - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
It took one hot pot recipe - the one with the hand pulled dumpling to open the door. Then I needed a new hot pot. I have tried these recipes with both my donabe and electric skillet. It has completely converted my meatasaurus husband to eating his vegetables. He was delightfully eating the cabbage!?! I couldn't believe my eyes. Not to mention, it was such a healthy way of cooking that tastes absolutely delicious, fresh and robust at the same time. It truly warms the soul

My one recommendation - Have a couple recipe options available since not all ingredients are readily available. You will find that almost all the ingredients are available at a well-stocked Japanese grocery store.
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