Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Easy Nishime

Osechi-Ryori is traditional Japanese New Year's food eaten during the first three days of the New Year. Each dishes that make up Osechi-Ryori has a special meaning celebrating the New Year (such as good health, fertility, good harvest, happiness, long life, etc...) and those dishes can last for a couple of days in the refrigerator or at cool room temperature in winter. Usually, they are served in jyubako (three-tiered bento boxes). In the first tier, we serve colorful festive dishes such as shrimp, black beans, sweet chestnuts, etc... In the second tier we serve sunomono (pickled dishes) and yakimono (grilled dishes). And in the third tier, we serve nimono (simmered dish) called nishime (simmered Japanese vegetables).

Traditionally, we spend few days to prepare Osechi but I always spend few hours to complete mine. I use ready-made dishes for sweet dishes since my darling doesn't eat a lot and cook the non-sweet ones at home.

So, below is my darling's favorite Nishime recipe for the third tier :) I use frozen Japanese vegetables to save time and money. It's in a package like the image on the right.

For the seasoning, I use Yamasa's Konbu Tsuyu (3 times concentrated Konbu kelp seaweed soup stock) which is tasty and convenient. I'm sure they are available overseas at Asian grocery stores.

In my recipe you'll see slices of matsutake mushrooms but you may use decorative cut shitake mushrooms. With just a little extra effort, it comes out gorgeous, so try to use fancy cut vegetables ;)

Easy Nishime

Difficulty: Easy
Time: 1hour
Number of servings: 6-8

Necessary Equipment:
1 large deep pot
1 medium pot
1 small pot
1 otoshi buta (drop-lid - you can use aluminum foil)

1 large chicken thigh
250g (8.8oz.) konjac
800g (1.8lb.) 2bags of Japanese frozen vegetables (includes: aroid, lotus root, carrot, shitake, green beans, bamboo shoot, burdock root)
3 matsutake mushrooms OR 8 decorative cut shitake mushrooms
1 yurine (lily bulb)
8 decorative cut carrots
* 3 tbsp. soy sauce
* 1 tbsp. mirin (sweet sake)
* 1 tbsp. sake
* 1 tbsp. sugar
* 2 tbsp. soy sauce
* 1 tbsp. mirin (sweet sake)
* 1 tbsp. sake
* 1 tsp. sugar
* 20cc 3 times concentrated Yamasa's Konbu Tsuyu
* 80cc water
* 60cc 3 times concentrated Yamasa's Konbu Tsuyu
* 240cc water

1. Thinly slice or decorative cut konjac and boil 2-3 minutes in order to skim the scum.

2. Cut chicken thigh into bite-sized pieces, parboil (to remove the scum and fat), drain, and set aside.

3. Separate frozen vegetables and keep frozen until just before you use. NOTE: not going to use carrot and shitake if you prepare decorative cut ones.

4. In a large deep pot, put konjac, chicken and mushrooms, cover with water above the layer of ingredients, bring to boil, add A, cover with otoshi buta (drop-lid - you can use aluminum foil) and cook over low heat for 20 minutes.

5. Add lotus root, bamboo shoot, burdock root, and B, and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.

6. Wash yurine and separate into pieces. In a small pot, bring water to boil, cook yurine pieces for a minute, quickly rinse with cold water, and drain. Bring C to boil, cook yurine pieces for 3 minutes.

7. In a medium pot, bring D to boil, add aroid and cook for 5 minutes. Add decorative cut carrots and cook for 5 minutes. Add green beans and cook for 2 minutes.

8. In the third tier, nicely arrange 5, 6, and 7 (drain excess liquid).

My original recipe in Japanese is HERE.

HERE is my three-tiered Osechi from this year. Hope I can arrange nicer for the next year :D

My holidays start from 12/30 till 1/4. Pretty short...

Best wishes for a happy new year and see you in 2011!!!

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