*** I have an updated (2014) version of this recipe here if you're interested.
Nishime; a humble Japanese Vegetable Stew, is a New Years staple for many households in Hawaii. There are probably as many different Nishime recipes as there are Families, and you are sure to find Nishime at almost any New Years "spread" in Hawaii.
Actually, I've been trying to retire from making Nishime for several years. As soon as New Year approaches, I'd ask the Missus if she wants me to make "Sukiyaki". And Her answer will always be the same; "No, I want Nishime". "Why?" "Because it takes much more time and labor to make. And that is a labor of love. heeheehee." It's quite surprising that such a humble stew, takes so much time and effort to make. Though to be honest, many of the ingredients can be bought already cut, sliced, or otherwise prepared. But for some reason the Nishime made with pre-made ingredients doesn't taste the same. It probably lacks the saltiness from the sweat of my labor! The actual cooking time is only about 30 minutes or so. It's the preparation that takes time.
Please forgive the somewhat "disjointed" recipe. I've tried to present the process in a fairly coherent manner, including many steps that are probably obvious to anyone who has made Nishime, or any similar dish before.
1 Lb Thinly sliced lean pork(We use Beef, the Missus enjoys the flavor)
2 Tb Vegetable Oil
5 Cups Water
2 36" Strips Nishime(not Dashi) Kombu(Kelp)
1 Strip Kanpyo (Dried Gourd)
2 Packages Konnyaku or Shirataki
2 Cups Daikon cut into wedges
1 Cup Carrots cut using a rolling cut
2 Cans Takenoko Tips(Bamboo Shoot Tips)
2 Stalks Gobo (Burdock Root)
12-15 Satoimo/Araimo/Dasheen(Japanese Taro)
6 dried or fresh Shiitake Mushroom - rehydrated in warm water if dried
1/2 Cup Soy Sauce
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Mirin
2 Tb Sake
1/2 Tsp salt
2 Cloves Garlic Minced
1 - Place two large pots of water on the stove and bring to a boil.
2 - Wash Kombu, and strip lengthwise if wider then 3 inches. Tie into knots at 2 inch intervals. To make the Kombu the way I do it, tie one strip of Kombu into knots, and leave the other as is. Soak Kombu in water for 20 minutes. Soak Kanpyo in water for 20 minutes.
3 - Cut Gobo in half; and scrape "skin/bark" off of root using a spoon. Immediately place in water to prevent discoloration. Cut Gobo into 1/2" matchstick lengths. Parboil in water for several minutes(I use a microwave for 3 minutes on high)
4 - Blanch and peel Araimo, and place in water to avoid discoloration.(Blanching makes the taro much easier to peel) Be careful if cutting the taro, it is very starchy and slippery.
5 - Because the Missus likes her Kombu in "maki"(roll) form; I'll tie half the Kombu, and make the other half into maki as a compromise; rolling the Kombu and tying with a short strip of Kanpyo.
7 - If using Shirataki(yam noodles), open packages and place in a colander. Pour boiling water over Shirataki to remove the "smell". If using Konnyaku, slice crosswise.
8 - Cut Daikon into "wedges", cut Carrots using a "rolling cut".
9 - Mince garlic.
10 - Heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and pork until light brown in color.
12 - Add Shiitakes, soy sauce, and salt and simmer 15 minutes, or until cooked. Taste and make adjustments to flavoring.
Like most stews, the Nishime will taste better the day after cooking.
Whew! No wonder Nijiya sells Nishime for $3.99 for 2 ounces! As mentioned before, you can purchase peeled and perfectly round frozen satoimo and rolled kombu maki ready to be soaked. I would not recommend the frozen packaged sliced Gobo; many times a preservative is used to prevent oxidation. I've also eaten Nishime with abuarage(fried tofu), Hasu(Lotus Root), Kamaboku(steamed fish cake) or chicken used to replace the pork/beef. Dashi is also often used to add flavor as well. So many variations for this tasty, but humble "poor folk's" stew.