I hope all of my friends who celebrate Thanksgiving had a lovely holiday last week. The university combines Fall Break and Thanksgiving to give a week off from classes, which means Jeremy can work from home. But which home? Well, it always depends on who has better snow come early season – the Front Range or Crested Butte? Both resorts and Nordic centers were looking pretty bleak, so we opted for Crested Butte in the hopes that the backcountry would have some cover.
We were able to ski tour and uphill ski, but we didn’t bother skate skiing as the snow was rather thin in town. For the most part we skied, worked, did some house maintenance, and kept our holiday low key. Crested Butte was especially quiet with more than half of the restaurants closed or on reduced hours for shoulder season until December. With so many locals off to visit families over the week, I stepped in to help someone with meals and dog care. I mean, that’s part of Thanksgiving – the giving.
enjoying lovely trails right after crested butte nordic had groomed
top of the climb on donation day
a 3 month old puppy runs up to say hi
feeling much gratitude for this life with this guy
Instead of turkey, I made sous vide pork chops (an hour in the sous vide and four minutes finished with a pan sear). The only thing that resembled a turkey was Neva’s Thanksgiving meal, which was made of raw beef, cheese, carrot, a strip of ham for the wattle, and two nonpareils sprinkles for the eyes.
neva’s thanksgiving “turkey”
eyes on jeremy as she waits for her release word
You can watch Neva eat her Thanksgiving plate on Instagram, because who doesn’t love to watch a dog eat an animal made of other foods?
Now that Thanksgiving is over, the clock is ticking ever louder as The Holidays approach. I basically have three weeks to figure out how I will turn butter, chocolate, flour, eggs, and sugar into a mess of gifts for Jeremy’s administrative staff, our local service folk, my oncology department, and friends. I don’t celebrate Christmas, but I do think the start of winter is a fine time to let people know how much they are appreciated. The trick is to get that and everything else on my to do list done!
While I would prefer more consistently cold weather and some (actually, a lot) of snow, it’s cool enough that we have been enjoying hot soups, stews, multi-hour simmered sauces, and hot pot. I grew up eating Chinese hot pot on chilly evenings, but it wasn’t until I went out with a girlfriend to a shabu shabu restaurant that I realized shabu shabu was another form of hot pot – Japanese hot pot. There are a lot of similarities in the ingredients, although I must admit the Japanese version is so much cuter. I wasn’t able to source all of the ingredients in the original recipe, but hot pot is more like a set of guidelines, so I went with what I could find and what I had on hand.
tofu, flank steak, enoki and matsutake mushrooms, scallions, napa cabbage, carrot, kombu (dried kelp)
soak the kombu in water
The broth starts with a piece of kombu soaking in water in your hot pot vessel (I use an electric wok here). It needs to soak for at least 30 minutes, so you may as well do that first and then make your sauce and prep your ingredients. There are actually two dipping sauces you can serve with your shabu shabu: a sesame sauce and ponzu. I made the sesame sauce, and it’s as simple as measuring out the ingredients, grating a clove of garlic, and stirring everything together. Nice.
mirin, rice vinegar, sake, sesame oil, canola oil, ponzu, tahini, miso, sugar, garlic
grate the garlic
stir everything together
smooth sesame sauce
You can store the sesame sauce in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. When I first made shabu shabu, it was at the height of our matsutake mushroom season. Instead of shiitakes, I sliced up these pine-scented beauties I had foraged a few days earlier. You can also use frozen matsutake slices or any edible mushroom you like. Leave the carrot slices round if you are short on time or don’t fancy little orange carrot flowers. Clearly, I fancy them. Flower-shaped food is more delicious than unflower-shaped food. For the flank steak, I find it is easier to achieve thin slices if the meat is half frozen… or half-thawed depending on your thermodynamic disposition. If you use Napa cabbage, cut the leafy parts from the ribs because the ribs take longer to cook.
little carrot flower cutouts
slice the beef against the grain
When your ingredients have been prepared, simmer your kombu and water for ten minutes. As the broth comes to a boil, remove the seaweed and start adding the napa cabbage ribs, tofu, carrots, mushrooms, and green onions. Because the carrots, tofu, and cabbage ribs will take longer to cook, we put those in first. I usually cover the pot to let the soup cook faster. If you are cooking on the stove, then you will need to transfer your pot to the dining table when the vegetables are tender. Since I use an electric wok, it’s already on the table and you can monitor the doneness of the vegetables from where you will be eating. At this point, each person grabs a few pieces of beef and cooks the slices in the hot broth. When the meat is cooked to your liking, take it out of the broth and dip it in the sesame (or ponzu) sauce and eat it. Don’t forget to dish some of those delicious vegetables and tofu into your bowl! It’s all part of the appeal.
all of the goodies
cook the mushrooms, tofu, cabbage ribs, carrots, and onions in the broth
cook the beef: dip beef slices into the hot broth
Shabu shabu is a little different from the way I grew up eating hot pot, but I love it for its simplicity and variety of vegetables. You can add udon noodles to the broth after most of the goodies have been consumed, and then eat the noodles. I am usually too full to even consider noodles, so I always skip that step. Just remember there is flexibility in how you can serve shabu shabu. I think a good hot soup loaded with fresh ingredients and shared among those at the table is a fine way to spend a winter evening – preferably after a good day of skiing.
fresh and colorful
a bowl of delicious
1 piece of kombu (dried kelp), 3-inch square
1/2 medium head of Napa cabbage, ribs and leaves cut into 2-inch squares
3 medium matsutake or other fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thin
1 pkg fresh enoki mushrooms, stalks trimmed
2-inch piece of carrot, peeled and cut into rounds or shapes
8 oz. medium firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
3 stalks green onions, 2-inch pieces sliced on the diagonal
1 lb. flank steak, thinly sliced against the grain
other items you can include, but I didn’t
1/2 bunch of garland chrysanthemum
8 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems trimmed
1 pkg shimeji mushrooms, stalks trimmed
1 pkg udon noodles
ponzu with optional grated daikon radish and shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven spice)
3 tbsps sake
2 tbsps tahini
1 tbsp ponzu
1 tbsp miso paste
1/2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp mirin
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced or grated (optional)
Prepare the shabu shabu: Fill two-thirds of your pot (clay pot, stock pot, electric wok) with water. Soak the kombu in the water for a minimum of 30 minutes. Prep your vegetables and meat.
Make the sesame sauce: Whisk everything together in a bowl and store covered for up to a week in the refrigerator.
Cook: Simmer the pot of water with the kombu over medium heat for 10 minutes. When the water starts to boil, remove the seaweed. Add white ribs of the Napa cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, tofu, and green onions to the broth. Cover and let cook until the ribs of the cabbage are tender. Uncover the pot and add the leafy parts of the Napa cabbage to the broth. If your pot is at the table (i.e. electric or on a portable cooker), people can start cooking their beef by dipping a piece into the broth, cooking it to desired doneness, and placing it in their bowl. Dip cooked meat, tofu, and vegetables into dipping sauces (sesame or ponzu) to eat. Continue cooking other ingredients as needed. At the end of the meal, you can add the udon noodles to the broth to cook for a few minutes and dip in ponzu or season with salt and white pepper. Serves 4.
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