January 10, 2010

Pak Choi and Squash Hot Pot

Ah my beloved DVR, how I love that you allow me to catch the five to ten minutes of valuable information left in the hour long debacle known as the Martha Stewart Show. Without you, I wouldn't have been able to sift through the product plugs and celebrity prattle and I would have missed the segment featuring Japanese hot pot meals from this week.

This gave me a new way to use up the pak choi I've been struggling with from my farm share. Plus, I used up local shiitake mushrooms that I dried this fall and butternut squash left from my garden. Hot, comforting and ridiculously fast and easy to make, this hot pot has me adding yet another cookbook to my Amazon wish list.

Pak Choi and Squash Hot Pot
Serves 3-4
Based on the recipe for Kabocha Pumpkin Hot Pot from "Japanese Hot Pots: Comforting One-Pot Meals" by Tadashi Ono (Note: these adaptions are made to fit what's in my pantry and what needs to get used up)

8-10 dried shiitake mushrooms
1-2 pieces of kombu*
1/2 cup soy sauce or tamari*
1/2 cup mirin*
8 oz (~2 cups) diced, peeled winter squash (butternut, kambocha, etc)
6 oz cubed firm tofu
3-4 cups pak choi, chopped into 1-inch pieces
4-5 green onions, chopped into 1-inch
1 (1.6 oz package) of rice noodles or raman noodles, like these from Thai Kitchen
1 cup boiling water + 4 cups water

*These ingredients are available from the Michigan-based company, Eden Foods, though of course no one is harvesting kombu anywhere near here.

-Cover the mushrooms with a cup of boiling water and let set for 5-10 minutes. You could soak them in all of the cold water overnight but who thinks ahead like that?
-Remove the mushrooms from the hot water, trim the stems and cut any large mushrooms in half. Add the mushroom water to 4 more cups of water, the kombu, soy sauce and mirin in a heavy soup pot, like an enameled cast iron pot. Bring to a boil.
-When the broth is boiling, add the squash and mushrooms and return to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook covered for 5-6 minutes.
-Uncover and add the tofu, pak choi, green onions and noodles. Push the ingredients into the broth, cover and turn the heat up to medium-high. Cook for ~3 more minutes or until the noodles are done. Remove the kombu before serving (or see how long your dinner companions will chew on it, LOL!)

Notable variation:
When I made this earlier this week I didn't feel like noodles so I made some sticky rice, IE unseasoned sushi rice. Then I poured the finished soup with the vegetables over a pile of the rice in a large bowl. It was as good or better, depending on your mood.

This week's 9 Bean Rows winter farm share: (clockwise from top middle)
white pak choi, purple pak choi, Leelanau Cheese fromage blanc, wheat boule, potatoes, more potatoes, eggs, lacinato kale, walnuts and Swiss chard
Extra link: You can watch the Martha Stewart Show segments on hot pots, HERE