Jazzing up simmered Winter Vegetables

Posted on Jan 20, 2013 in Hiroko's Blog

During the chilly winter months the operation of farmers market at Union Square in New York City does not cease. The number of vendors are less and the varieties of produce is limited to mostly root vegetables. Parsnip, kabocha squash, cabbage, onions, loose turnips, carrot and beets, rutabagas, celeriac, cabbage and sweet and regular potatoes. Many of these vegetables were harvested earlier and stored. Yet, I am great full to have an access to them because they taste better than those which come from far away and sold at nearby supermarket and food stores.

Two weeks ago Buzz triumphantly brought back a huge head of cabbage from the market. “It was 2 dollars a head. Big bargain!” So, in the next 8 days (it really took 8 days to consume the whole) I ended up cooking cabbage for lunch and dinner.

Stir-fried with ginger and my Spicy Miso Sauce (Hiroko’s American Kitchen), stir-fried with Toang-Jiang chile sauce and garlic, coleslaw (my mother’s version with carrot and onion), finely shredded and served with tonkatsu, pork cutlet, raw cabbage salad served with Spicy Miso Sauce as a dipping sauce, cabbage and purple endive salad with Sweet Sumiso Sauce dressing (Hiroko’s American Kitchen), rice cooked with cabbage and salmon, cabbage and chicken meatball nabe hot pot (Hiroko’s American Kitchen), okonomiyaki,……

Cabbage can do so many things! I have never cooked cabbage so intensively like this time in the past. The dished which I had prepared were all good, but at the end we were cabbaged-out.

In order to bring a change in our meal I regretfully passed 2 dollars a head cabbage at the market and bought Kabocha, daikon, carrot and turnip. I decided to cook them in the traditional way – Nimono.

Excerpt from Hiroko’s American Kitchen;

“Nimono, simmered vegetables, is one of the most popular cooking techniques in Japan and is used to enjoy the distinctive flavor of seasonally changing vegetables. Vegetables are first briefly cooked in water, then in flavored stock. Since each vegetable requires a different cooking time and has its own flavor and texture, we cook and season each of them separately. The cooked vegetables are assembled and served together.”

For the nimono dish, we cut each vegetables in a chopstick manageable size. For every day meal I cut vegetables into round disk, rectangular piece or irregularly shaped one. After too much cabbage dinner, I decided to make nimono in a fancier way. I cut daikon in half moon shape, carrot first into a round disk and cut out into a maple leaf shape with a vegetable cutter, turnip carved into chrysanthemum flower, and Kabocha into autumn leaf. When you do this kind of cutting you are ending up with lots of unused, uneven pieces of vegetables. Do not throw them away, but use them for the miso soup or stir- fry them with other vegetables.

I cooked and flavored each vegetables separately and here is the assembled dish. You can prepare this nimono dish a day or two in advance. Gently heat them up before serving. Do not forget to serve the warmed vegetables with the cooking sauce. The dish is beautiful, flavorful and nourishing.

To get more information, including recipes and tips of nimono cooking, refer page 62, 63, 64 and 65 in Hiroko’ American Kitchen.