Recently my wife wanted something light – what with the recent stretch of hot weather here in the Boston area. I thought the easiest thing to do would be to make a yosenabe. Over the years, I’ve had yosenabe in the Boston area and occasionally, they have noodles added to the dish (making the yosenabe a good idea given that my wife loves pasta). I hadn’t made yosenabe before, but I figured the key to doing the dish was the broth (especially since noodles were going into the dish) used. Yosenabe (yose (寄)) basically means assembling any number of things into the stew pot and is typically a seafood based dish seasoned with dashi and soy. Since there was going to be noodles (I was going to use inaniwa udon) in soup, I looked up Tsuji’s recipe for kakejiru (the online version can be found here):
…and as Tsuji writes: “…the recipe is a general guideline – change it to your taste.” For the broth base, I first halved the recipe and then decided – it’s got mirin, why add extra sugar? So I dropped the sugar, made the kakejiru and tasted it. Tsuji’s version is quite salty, so I carefully added some boiled water a bit at a time, tasting it as I went and came up with:
6 1/2 cups dashi
1 t salt
1 1/2 T usukuchi soy sauce
1 1/2 T soy sauce
1 T mirin
To the yosenabe, I included ~8 1/2 oz of small nappa leaves, 3 medium carrots (peeled and cut thinly on a
bias). When the broth was just at a boil, I tossed in the vegetables. I let the whole thing cook for about 5
minutes on medium heat. About 1 lb of monkfish (cut into 1 1/2″ pieces) and 1/4 lb of squid heads was
then added . The whole mix cooked for about another 3-4 minutes on medium heat. At that point, in
went 12 cleaned littleneck clams to simmer for about another 6 minutes.
I finally added 7 U16 unshelled shrimp (when the clams opened) and then took it off the stove and let the shrimp cook in the residual heat.
While the shrimp was cooking, I’d brought a pot of water to boil and then added a package of inaniwa udon
(7.5 oz – think: 2 ramen sized portions, 1 per person) to cook for about 4 minutes. At then end of that
time, I drained the inaniwa and shocked it twice (much like the procedure Matsuhisa-sama describes in his Lobster Inaniwa Pasta Salad recipe (Nobu Now, p. 210). Once the noodles were done, it was just a
matter of loading the stew bowls with 1″ cubes of silken tofu and then topped with the noodles. I chose
to handle to tofu that way so they would be cooked and insulated by the noodles when the hot
yosenabe broth and seafood toppings were ladled into the bowl. It was a much better option than
having the soft tofu disintigrate in the cooking pot.
Boy was my wife ever happy! As we worked our way through our bowls of yosenabe, it did indeed turn out that the tofu was well warmed underneath the noodles with the hot broth. A pleasant and relaxing meal it was.