This is one of the best, weirdest, and cheapest dishes I made this year. As it turns out, when you live near Asian markets, you can get thick slices of pork belly (sliced a la bacon), heads of napa cabbage, and most of the other stuff you need for this recipe for incredibly cheap. The resulting hotpot (aka nabe) is hearty, filling, and keeps forfuckingever. (Yay depression proof food!) I’ve made this twice, and still have leftovers in my fridge from the last time. A+, can and will recommend.
It’s technically supposed to be real pretty cooking, but I’ll be real honest with you, I gave up on that pretty damn quickly. The assembly can be complicated, but it is doable. There are detailed pictoral directions at the linked recipe, too. If you can do it better than I can, bless and go forth.
Makes: hella. You’re gonna have nabe for a while and then some.
- 1 head napa cabbage (no really, I promise, whatever size you get WILL be enough)
- 1.5 lbs sliced pork belly (go to your local Asian market for this, you’ll get it sliced just to the right thickness and way cheaper; feel free to increase this if you really like meat)
- 5 c dashi (honestly, I had instant packets of dashi for this, and I used it; linked version will give you the normal way to make it)
- 1 in ginger
- 2 T sake
- 1 t soy sauce
- .5 t sea salt
- shimeji/enoki mushrooms (optional)
- ponzu and shichimi togarashi to dip in (green onion if you want to too, but I skipped it)
To start, thiny slice your ginger, and set to the side.
Cut your cabbage into quarters, lengthwise (pic 1), and wash the leaves carefully and drain well, taking care not to cut the edge as you do so. Keep a hold of any leaves that may come off; you will use them later. Take your pork belly slices, and put them between each leaf of the napa cabbage (pic 2). Use kitchen shears to cut the pork belly to the appropriate length for the leaves.
Once that’s done, cut the stuffed cabbage into three to four pieces, depending on the size of the leaf, usually about two inches or so long. Start packing the pot from the outer edge with the pieces, working your way in. The layers will loosen as they cook, so pack it as tight as possible. Stuff the center with leaves that fell off while washing, and, if you so choose, shimeji/enoki mushrooms. Pics 3 and 4 are what this looks like when I do it. Click the original recipe for a way better looking example of this.
Combine the soup ingredients (dashi through sea salt and the ginger slices), and add to the pot, pouring over the packed cabbage and pork belly and mushrooms. Don’t cut down on the salt, as the cabbage will release liquid when it cooks and dilute down the soup.
Cook on high heat, and skim the foam and fat on the surface once it starts boiling, if you so choose (I chose not to). Then, reduce the heat to medium high, and cook until the cabbage is tender, and the pork belly is cooked through. Pics 5 through 7 are what this process looks like, with pic 7 being from my second try at this.
When you’re ready, scoop it from the pot and serve hot, with the ponzu and shichimi togarashi to dip into (pic 8). And seriously, enjoy the wonderfully simple flavors in this.