It is raining, it is cold, and I keep reading about hot pots on two of my favorite Japanese food blogs — The Japanese Food Report and La Fuji Mama.  I tried to make a traditional Japanese Sukiyaki with beef and vegetables.  I didn’t really like it.  I think I overcooked the beef.  Then, I decided to work with food that is more in my comfort range — vegetables, noodles, and tofu.  I found various recipes on the internet and looked around my kitchen and came up with this recipe.  It turned out really delicious.  And, it is very versatile; so, think of this as a good recipe to use to just clean out your refrigerator.  It also is good to make if you are cooking with people that have strong opinions about what goes into their meals (i.e. people on special diets, kids, etc.); because, you could make a couple of small pots of  this soup and let everyone put what they like in their pot.

I started by chopping and slicing all the vegetables I had in my refrigerator.  I think it is important to have some mushrooms (here I used fresh shiitakes) and some onion.  The other vegetables are optional and can vary based on what you have and what you like.

I also drained and cubed some firm tofu.  Soft tofu would also be good.  You can add any other protein you like. If you are using leftover meat that has already been cooked — add it at the end to just heat it up.  If you are using uncooked meat, add it at the beginning with the mushrooms and onions.

Boil four cups of water with four tablespoons of light soy sauce, two tablespoons of mirin, mushrooms, and onions.  Reduce the heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes.  For extra umami, you can add a piece of kombu (dried seaweed).  The kombu is optional; but, if you can find some (Whole Foods, Japanese market, etc.) it adds a nice texture to the soup.

Add your the rest of your vegetables.  I also added some dried rice noodles.  Let it simmer until the noodles and vegetables are cooked.  Season with salt to taste.  Simmer for another minute and remove from the heat.

Enjoy!

I sprinkled a bit of shichimi togarashi on my soup.  Shichimi togarashi is Japanese seven flavor chili pepper.  It typically contains:  red chili pepper, black and white sesame seeds, orange peel, ginger, Sichuan pepper, and nori.  It really adds a lot of flavor to this soup.

I liked this soup so much that I made it again the next night.  I was out of fresh shiitake mushrooms; so, I used dried shiitakes.  I added a piece of kombu, udon noodles, and roasted chicken.  I soaked the kombu and dried shiitakes in warm water for about 20 minutes in the pot before starting the soup.  I kept the soaking water in the pot and took out the shiitakes to stem and slice them.  I returned the mushrooms to the pot with some onions (and the kombu that was left in the pot).  I simmered this for 5 minutes.  Then, I added my remaining vegetables, the pre-cooked udon noodles, and the roasted chicken.

A bit of shichimi togarashi sprinkled on top.  Delicious.  I am looking forward to further experiments using this basic formula.  This soup is quick, delicious, easy to make, and a good use of leftovers.

Slurp-o-licious!

Vegetable Sukiyaki

Note:  Feel free to substitute other vegetables, noodles, and meat into this dish.  If you are using meat that has already been cooked, add it at the end with the noodles to just warm it up.  If you are using raw meat, add it at the beginning with the onions and mushrooms.  Roasted chicken worked well in this dish.

Ingredients for 2 servings (you can double this recipe)

1 cup fresh or dried shiitakes (soaked in warm water for 20 minutes), sliced

1/2 cup of chopped kale (or bok choy or chard or nappa cabbage)

1/2 cup of sliced red pepper

1/2 cup of tofu (cubed)

1 small onion, sliced

a handful of dried rice noodles or udon noodles (or whatever noodles you like)

4 tablespoons of soy sauce

2 tablespoon of mirin

kosher salt

Shichimi togarashi (optional)

1 piece of kombu, rinsed, dried with a towel, and soaked in warm water for 20 minutes (optional)

Boil 4 cups of water with the soy sauce, mirin, mushrooms, onion, and kombu (if using).  Let it simmer for 5 minutes.  Add red pepper, kale, tofu, and noodles.  Let simmer again until the noodles are soft.  Season with some salt.  Cook for another minute.  Remove from heat.  Remove kombu.  Season with shichimi togarashi.

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