Monday, November 19, 2012

Nabe and Onigiri Girl

My onigiri lunch box.
I was told I look like it.

Turns out I'm growing to love Nakano, and I especially love my space- so cozy and clean. Feeling comfortable in my own home is something I had not experienced in a long time, as shared houses, especially in Japan (where it's an unusual concept) can be impersonal and cold.

Having a clean (albeit small) kitchen is making me want to cook every single day, and the approaching winter days are keeping me inside near the heater. I was lucky to have a private cooking session with a skilled local once again, and this time a hot pot of nabe was suggested in order to keep warm on this cold, cold day. Nabe is a popular Japanese food mostly eaten in winter, and it consists of a hot pot in which you can throw a variety of ingredients, such as vegetables, meat, fish, and noodles in a flavoured broth. You can get as creative as you wish with nabe, adding all your favourite vegetables or anything you have on hand.

We picked up a variety of leafy greens at the grocery store, along with sliced meat, tofu, udon noodles, and clear, stringy konnyaku noodles. Making nabe is relatively simple (and cheap!), as you basically just throw in all the ingredients in a hot pot, in a dashi (fish stock) based broth, and let everything simmer. We garnished the portions with a little daikon, ginger, and a special soy sauce + lemon mix.

I was also taught how to properly make onigiri, as my previous failed attempts resulted in a gooey mess. For onigiri beginners, it is suggested to wrap the rice portion in a cellophane sheet in order to shape it. I filled mine with tuna, and wrapped a seaweed strip around it. Yes, it's basic Japanese cooking skills, but it's quite mystifying for a girl like myself. You can see all the steps below.

The nabe meal made me so warm, full, and sleepy. I want to eat it every day this winter. Its so healthy and filling. I saved the onigiri for lunch and made one more for a snack. It was a successful evening.

I'm a lucky, lucky girl.

Bounty needed for the feast

Throw everything together- tah dah! 

Serve portions in a smaller bowl
and top with ginger and daikon 
How to make onigiri!
Put some lightly salted rice on a sheet

Wrap and shape into a triangle, or any shape is okay

This photo almost did not make the cut
But well, you must make a hole with your finger

Stuff with the filling of your choice.
Mine was tuna, but anything goes!

Add a bit of rice to top it off

Working hard to re-shape it

Triangle, pre-seaweed.
I forgot to take a final photo, it was eaten too quickly maybe.

So many leafy greens to play with.


Christine loves to Travel said...

I love hot pot! Keeps you warm on cold days/nights.

Gigglebangs Riceball said...

I pretty much live in front of my heater.

Malice said...

That looks delicious. I love Nakano broadway! And there is an awesome fabric shop downstairs!

Unknown said...

Hi Vivian, I'm glad that you like your new apartment! I loved my apartment in Himeji and I think that it is so important to have a cozy place to come home to.

I was just curious how did you get into freelance writing? It is a career that I am considering after being a special ed. teacher for years. You seem to really enjoy it!

Sophelia said...

I loooove nabe! I make it vegetarian with a soy milk and sesame base rather than dashi, and we usually eat it with rice the first day then add udon to any leftovers for the next meal.