During my vacation from writing blog posts over this past summer, I was experimenting quite a bit with the Japanese class of dishes known as ‘Nimono’ or ‘Simmered Things’. Essentially, these are dishes in which the main ingredients are simmered in a ‘Shiru’, or broth, chiefly made with Dashi and other seasonings such as Soy, Mirin, or Miso. I will be looking at quite a few different sorts of Nimono in the upcoming months but today’s post illustrates a very simple example of the technique and allows me to use some of the Mizuna my wife grew over the summer…
- 1lb Potato, cut into small chunks;
- 1 handful Mizuna;
- 1 cup Dashi;
- 1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce;
- 1 Tbsp. Mirin;
- ½ tsp Salt;
- 1 Tsp. Sugar.
Here is our Mizuna in the greenhouse. One good sized bunch constitutes darn near half our whole crop but, luckily, the stuff re-grows really quickly.
The Mizuna is best quickly blanched in boiling water for about 10 seconds and then plunged into cold water to arrest the cooking. Then, you can wring out excess water before chopping the leaves and stems fairly coarsely.
Make your broth mixture by combining the Dashi, Mirin, Soy Sauce, Salt and Sugar.
Bring the broth to a light boil in a suitable pot, add the chinks of potatoes and turn the heat down to a moderate simmer. The length of time will vary somewhat depending on the heat and the size of the potato but about 15 – 20 minutes should be more than enough. Basically, the initial cooking is complete when the potatoes are soft enough to eat and the cooking broth is mostly evaporated.
Now you can add the Mizuna and allow it to cook for just a minute or so longer, stirring well (but gently) to mix. At this point, you can serve the solids (either hot or cold), along with some of the remaining broth, or you can continue to cook until the broth is completely absorbed (in which case you will likely serve it immediately while still hot).
In the first picture of the post, you can see that I spooned off some of the potato. mizuna and broth, and served everything (chilled) as a small plate appetizer, or side-dish.
And here is the remainder… the broth is just about completely absorbed and everything is still nicely warm. The garnish, as in the first picture, is Korean-style shredded dried chili.
My wife and I enjoyed the simmered potato with some grilled chicken. The meal was hot but I think that both of these items would have made a lovely cold snack as well.
Anyway, there will be more Nimono to come…