Nabemono: Japanese Salmon and Shiitake Hot Pot

Nabemono: Japanese Winter Hot Pot featuring Miso, Dashi, Salmon, Shiitakes, Leeks, Winter Radish and Spinach.  Super easy.  Ready in 15 minutes,

Nabemono is a traditional Japanese soup typically served in winter time, when the warmth of hot broth seems particularly welcome.  It’s a simple, throw-it-together kind of a food – one that can adapt easily to whatever bits of fish, meat or vegetables lurk in your refrigerator.  I make it frequently in the winter, particularly when I am tired but in want of something nourishing.  Lately, as I work like crazy to finish up the Nourished Kitchen Cookbook (it’s due in just a few weeks – fortunately, I have a friend to help in the kitchen), nabemono have made their appearance on our table more often than I’d like to admit.

Nabemono is a compound word; that is, it combines the word nabe (cooking pot) with mono (stuff).  Nabemono are typically cooked in a clay pot called a donabe, which you can find here.  They’re beautiful little pots, and very versatile.  Of course, you can also substitute a clay baker or a Dutch oven.

I first experienced nabemono in Japan, where I grew up and learned to really love fresh foods.  We lived on a military base, but ventured off-base as often as we could – tucking into little Mamasan shops, and eating at yakitori stands, noodle joints, and our favorite restaurant that served the best sesame spinach.  But I remember the soups: the big, lidded clay pots full of broth, fish cakes, vegetables and a quivering slice of pork fat.

nabemono (2 of 3)

Broth for Nabemono

When I prepare nabemono at home, I start first as I do with any soup; I start with good broth.  To make a true fish stock requires fish bones, fish heads and other scraps which I typically don’t have access to, so I typically make my broth from a combination of kombu (a seaweed) and bonito flakes which is smoked and dried fish that’s shaved paper-thin.  You can find both in Asian markets and well-stocked health food stores.  Combined together with filtered water, they make dashi – traditional Japanese stock that, unlike other broths and stocks, takes only a little time as opposed to several hours for a good bone broth.

Assembling the Nabemono

I also like to paint a bit of miso onto the donabe itself – as the broth hits the ingredients and donabe, the miso dissolves and leaves its beautiful, rich flavor. After painting the pot with miso, simply arrange your vegetables, proteins and herbs in the pot.  Duck and mushrooms are good.  My favorite pot, when I was a child, held the surprise of a little crab (put in live) among the wakame and other herbs.  Now I favor lots of vegetables, wild-caught Alaskan salmon and a healthy serving of salmon roe (usually home-cured, and sometimes smoked).

Cover your ingredients with broth, and continue cooking for a few minutes.  Traditionally, nabemono continue cooking a on a little gas stove at the table, but I typically place mine in the oven for 15 minutes or so.

Wild-Caught Fish

Salmon is particularly rich in B vitamins as well as omega-3 fatty acids which are strongly anti-inflammatory, and which support cardiovascular and cognitive health as well as immune system function.  EPA, found almost exclusively in fish, is particularly critical to wellness.  Wild-caught roe is a particularly good source of EPA.

Where to Find Wild-Caught Salmon

Unless you live in a large metropolitan area or near the ocean, finding wild-caught fish presents a challenge.  I typically order my wild-caught salmon and salmon roe online here.

 

Nabemono

Nabemono with Miso, Salmon and Shiitakes
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Nabemono is a Japanese hot pot. This version is similar to the nabemono they produce in Hokkaido, and it features miso, salmon, shiitakes, leeks, winter radish and spinach. If you don't have dashi, a Japanese fish stock, you can make your own, or substitute any fish stock or even chicken stock.
Serves: about 6 servings
Ingredients
For the Dashi
  • 1 strip kombu
  • 1 cup bonito flakes
  • 1½ quarts water
For the Nabemono
  • ¼ cup white miso
  • 1 (8-oz) filet wild-caught Alaskan salmon
  • ½ pound winter or daikon radish, sliced thin
  • ½ pound shiitake mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 2 medium leeks, white and light-green parts only, sliced thin
  • ¼ pound spinach, finely chopped
  • 4 oz salmon roe
Instructions
For the Dashi
  1. Place kombu in a pot, if using, and cover with 1½ quarts filtered water. Allow the kombu to soak for 15 minutes to soften it.
  2. Turn on the burner to a moderately high flame. When the water begins to bubble, stir in bonito flakes, and remove from heat. Cover and allow the bonito flakes to steep in the water until they to the bottom, about 10 minutes. Strain the broth, composting the bonito flakes.
For the Nabemono
  1. Preheat oven to 275 F.
  2. Rub miso paste along the interior of your nabe pot, clay baker or Dutch oven. Arrange salmon, leeks, shiitakes, radish and spinach in the pot. Pour hot dashi over the salmon and vegetables. Cover and transfer to the oven. Allow the stew to cook 15 minutes or until the fish is done to your liking.
  3. Remove the pot oven, lift lid and toss in spinach. Return lid to the clay baker and allow the spinach to wilt in the residual heat of the soup - about 5 minutes.
  4. Ladle into individual soup bowls and top with salmon roe.

Join over 100,000 Real Food Lovers …

Inspired Recipes, Tips and More

What people are saying

  1. Emily Reitnauer says

    Thanks for this recipe, Jenny! Also, I love the new layout. It’s so much easier to find things! Thank you for your work.

    • jenny says

      So glad you like the new layout. I worked with a very talented designer to get it done. I hope it makes everything easier to find (and easier to discover cool new things, too!).

  2. Blanche Douma says

    Hello Jenny ! I was surprised that your instructions were to add HOT broth to the miso-coated bowl, and (what’s more surprising) to continue cooking longer. I am reluctant to destroy the live enzymes in my miso in that way – but I may have mis-read your directions – OR – perhaps sacrificing the enzymes is worth having it’s flavor in the bowl of soup ?

    • jenny says

      Miso is usually prepared by adding miso to hot broth, not the other way around, but there’s no harm in it. It’s very difficult to flavor the soup with miso by spooning it in after cooking is complete, and, traditionally, miso-flavored nabemono are made by painting miso onto the donabe. So, logistically, adding miso after cooking is a problem here. Assuming you’re eating a nutrient-dense diet with a plenty of raw foods and fermented foods, a bit of cooked miso won’t make you really miss anything.

  3. Patricia says

    Hello, Jenny. This looks delicious. I note that you add spinach in the final step, but spinach is not mentioned in the ingredient list. How much spinach do you add and how fine to you cut it? Thanks

  4. Lori U says

    I love Japanese soups! Did you live in Okinawa? I have friends that have lived there for at least 25 yrs and she teaches in the Elem. school on base. Hope to visit one day.

  5. MKCountryman says

    This looks so good. OK, so pardon if this is a silly question. I’m assuming the picture on the left is cooked. So, do you just cut up the fish? Do you cook it with the skin on? And it doesn’t look too soupy – more hearty…looks yummy.

  6. says

    wow, your timing is terrific- I was just on the computer this weekend looking for Japanese hotpot recipes and have it on my meal plan for this week but hadn’t found a good recipe. Can’t wait to try yours!

  7. says

    Definitely just made me salivate. Once I can manage to venture out into the cold to get the ingredients, I imagine I’ll be having at least a few meals of this. :)

  8. says

    This looks fantastic! I love any sort of Asian broth – that to me is absolute comfort food, a big steaming bowl of healthiness. I’ll be trying this for dinner tonight…

  9. says

    Once I got over the fact that I wasn’t going to be reading about writing a novel over the course of November (NaNoWriMo)
    I could enjoy your photography and salivate at the thought of this soup.

    It looks delicious.

    Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  10. says

    We made it- with shrimp and morels cause that’s what we had- and it was so good! My kids gobbled it up and it was so fast and easy. Thanks so much, we’ll be making this one again for sure!

  11. Lisa says

    This looks great! I have one question: would it be possible to make this soup with canned salmon? I have some wild caught canned salmon in my pantry, and fresh is not in the budget for this week. I’m guessing it won’t taste as good. Maybe I could just stir in the salmon at the end to heat it up in the soup (since it’s pre-cooked)?

  12. MKCountryman says

    So, I am making this now. Does the spinach go in before you put it in the over or just at the end? The way I read it, it has both…..I’m guessing either two bunches of spinach or……wait? Because it cooks down so much?

  13. Cindy says

    This looks soo good and makes me miss Japan even more! We left in 2007 when I retired from the Navy! Miss lots of food from Japan! Thanks for sharing this great recipe!!!

  14. says

    This looks and sounds wonderful, and I love the way you make fish stock. In the summer I buy whole fish from a fishmonger and make the stock with bones and heads and trimmings and it is amazing, but this is such a promosing mid-winter option. I even have an asian store in my town of 4,000, believe it or not, and a kick-butt food co-op to find the ingredients.

  15. Briana says

    Any substitutions for those of us that don’t like salmon? Would another fish work? Could you use a chicken or pork tenderloin? I know that sounds weird but most fish are not allowed in our house (salmon being a very specific one!!) and this looks so good. I would love to find a suitable alternate protein.

    Thanks!!

  16. Naomi says

    I really would like to find a way to buy just free GMO food . Do you any supermarket whee I could find it .
    thank you

  17. cheryl says

    I made this the other night when it was hot and steamy out and everyone loved it! Even though it is hearty, it is a great summer dish too! There were big bunches of purslane at the farmer’s market, fresh and cheap, so I used that instead of the spinach! It was amazing! This will be on regular rotation now at my house!
    Thanks!

  18. Matt says

    Wait! What about the crab!? Did you crack it open once you got to the bottom or what? What kind of crab? You must have been adding the broth very hot to cook the little guys.

  19. Nicole Pyle says

    I just made this and it’s a great recipe! My only question is: is this supposed to be so bland? Maybe I just overload my food with seasonings and salt, but this didn’t really have much of a flavor to me. Am I missing something important? I used the recipe verbatim, and even added some shrimp in shells for fun. Thank you!

  20. Stacey says

    I”m getting ready to make this, but I just ran out of spinach for another recipe I’m working on at the moment. Instead of spinach, how do you think flat leaf kale would tasted?

    • Stacey says

      Turned out great with the kale. Thanks for this recipe. It’s very delicious. It made my house smell so yummy; not fishy at all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>