Japanese Hot Pot with Carrots and Kudzu is a perfect dish for this rainy cold weather season. Filled with warming carrots, cauliflower and a sauce thickened with comforting, healing kudzu, (Japanese arrowroot or cornstarch) it’s perfect served over baked whole grain. Review the different ways to cook whole grains with this handy chart.
This recipe comes out best when you use a tool called an utoshibuta, a wooden lid used in Japanese cooking.
Utoshibutas create a double lid effect which increases the condensation and juices that occur when sautéing vegetables, and allows for more flavor to be extracted. Lids come in different sizes, use one that is small enough to lay on top of the food you are sautéing (smaller than the diameter of the pan). Look for them at Asian markets. I get mine at Soko Hardware in San Francisco, a unique place to shop in Japantown.
Japanese Hot Pot with Carrots and Kudzu
A quick, soothing dish, easy enough for any day, interesting enough for a dinner party.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 /4 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons kudzu (powdered or chunk style, arrowroot or cornstarch may be substituted)
4 teaspoons water
3 carrots, cut into 1-inch rounds
1 head cauliflower, broken into large florets
1 cup stock, plus extra for deglazing pan
4 ounces smoked packaged tofu, cut into 1/2-inch chunks (can substitute chicken)
1 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
Salt to taste
Green onions or nori, sliced thin, for garnish
Heat a medium-size, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add oil and onion with salt. Weigh down / cover with utoshibuta or substitute a glass plate. Cover with pot lid. Sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. While onions cook, dissolve kudzu in a small bowl with 4 teaspoons water. Set aside. After 5 minutes, move onions to one side of the pot; add half of the carrots. Spread onions on top of the carrots, and then add the remaining half of the carrots on top of the onions. Weigh down again with utoshibuta. Add a little stock if needed. Cover with pot lid and cook over medium heat about 7 minutes. Add cauliflower florets on top of the carrots and cover again with both lids. Add a little stock as needed. Cover and cook an additional 7 minutes or so, until vegetables are tender. Add tofu and stir. By now the kudzu/water mixture will have hardened, so stir it well and combine with 1 cup stock, soy sauce, and ginger. Add to the pot and bring to a boil, stirring until sauce thickens. Check consistency; add more kudzu (diluted in water) or stock if needed. Serve over whole grain. Garnish with green onions, sliced nori, and the Condiment Plate (see page 183 – Cool Cuisine).
Recipe excerpt from Cool Cuisine – Taking the Bite Out of Global Warming (Gibbs Smith 2008)
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