Our family usually eats nishime on New Year’s Eve in Hawaii since nishime is traditionally a Japanese New Year’s dish. But Mom likes to cook it every once in a while throughout the year since it’s really tasty. Nishime is great since there really isn’t a limit as to how much food you can put into the pot. Everything you want goes in and just enough of the simple sauce is added to the pot for the ingredients to cook and marinate in. Here’s what we put in this time:
- 2 lbs boneless chicken (dark meat preferred)
- 2 medium carrots
- 1 can bamboo shoots
- 1 bag frozen taro balls
- 1 bag frozen hasu slices (lotus root)
- 1 bag tofu age (fried tofu skin)
- 1 pack of fresh shiitake mushrooms (but we prefer dried)
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
Before you turn off the stove:
- 1 handful of green onions
- 1 tablespoons grated ginger
- 1 small bag of katsuo flakes
As for the sauce, here is what Mom prepared:
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup shoyu
- 1/2 cup mirin
- 3/4 cup cooking Splenda (or sugar)
You don’t have to use all of these ingredients that are listed here and you can add whatever other items that you prefer. This recipe is very forgiving and will taste good with whatever you decide to put in here. Just make sure to add ingredients in as you would a stew. Ingredients that take longer go in first, while quickly cooked items go in last.
Cut everything up and put into a large pot on high heat. Add in 1 tablespoon of the ginger and the sauce ingredients: water, shoyu, mirin and Splenda. Keep stirring to allow the sauce to mix with all of the ingredients. When it reaches boiling, reduce the heat to medium low and cover the pot for 20-30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
When it’s just about done (make sure your carrots, taro balls and chicken are fully cooked), add in the packet of katsuo fish flakes, green onion and the last tablespoon of freshly grated ginger. Mix everything together one last time and turn off the stove. It’s important to add the green onions and grated ginger right before you turn the stove off. The remaining heat will be more than enough to cook the green onions and you don’t want to cook the ginger because that fresh ginger zing is what we want to taste.
And there you have it, nishime Aunty Sandy style. Everything is fully cooked and soaked with the sauce’s awesome flavor. You can tell just by looking that the green onions aren’t overcooked because they are not brown and lifeless. Plus that last dash of fresh ginger really added another dimension to the flavor of the nishime and it’s probably a technique that you can add to other Asian dishes.
Let me know if you give this a try! Mom and I would love to hear how it went. And if you have a question for Aunty Sandy, just let us know!