Monday, December 31, 2007

12/15/07: Nabé Party

As the temperature (finally) drops towards wintery conditions in NYC, it was time to have a warm dish party at my place. I asked my friend Tomoko what she wanted to be served, giving her options of boiled dumplings (水餃子), udon, okonomiyaki, and nabé (鍋). It seems that Tomoko liked all the choices, and decided to combine 3 out of the 4 options: "Let's do dumplings and udon in a nabé!" was her cheerful reply.

As Melinda explains, the virtue of nabé is that it can be what we want it to be.

Being the chef, I got to choose the ingredients aside from dumplings and udon: daikon radish (大根), Napa cabbage (白菜), shiitaké (椎茸), bamboo shoots (筍), fish cakes (竹輪), and mitsuba leaves (三つ葉). The key to making good nabé is to start early, so that the dashi (ダシ) broth can permeate the ingredients (especially daikon), and in turn, the ingredients release their flavors to the broth.

The gyoza was made by hand, including the skin. The base ingredients were beef, pork, scallion, Napa cabbage, scallion, ginger, and other seasonings. They were cooked prior to serving so that they don't become too mushy. Considering the size of my earthen pot (土鍋), gyoza was served in two servings.

The final serving featured udon noodles. Although we were pretty full, my guests couldn't bear the thought of passing up udon in a umami-rich nabé broth.

We had two sakés for this evening, Sato No Homaré Junmai Ginjo (Yamadaho rice) andTake No Tsuyu Junmai Ginjo. Sato No Homaré with its umami-rich finish was a great complement, and Take No Tsuyu's fruitiness came through with the lightly soy-based broth. Both paired well, but it should be mentioned that practically speaking, most sakés would pair well with nabé.

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