Chicken Soba Hot Pot

Chicken Soba Hot Pot


My wife and I and a houseguest visiting from Japan cooked this dish on New Year's Eve from a recipe dug up in a Japanese newspaper. Soba is the traditional meal on the last day of the year, the noodles symbolizing long life and health for the upcoming annum. I particularly liked this dish (it's a hot pot, of course I liked it!), a tasty combination of chicken, mushroom, abura age and soba. The dried soba you drop into the pot raw, so it cooks in the broth and thickens it. Nice touch, and easy. And to top it off, you accent this dish with one of my favorite Japanese ingredients, citrusy, fiery yuzu kosho, dissolving it right into the broth. God, this was good. What a way to ring in the New Year.

A couple of days ago, as I was shivering my butt off in the current deep freeze enveloping New York City (anyone want to invite me to their home in the Bahamas for... forever?), my thoughts drifted back to this satisfying, comforting, warming, fantastic hot pot. Why just eat it once a year? Here's how I prepared it:

The basic ingredients (add more or less of anything to fit your pot, and taste; the following is a rough guide)
2 (6-inch) pieces kombu
1 piece of abura age
Boiling water to pour over abura age
3/4 pound mushrooms (see note)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 chicken legs and thigh, skinned, deboned and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound napa cabbage, sliced on an angle into bite-sized pieces
4 cups warm liquid (see note below)
3 tablespoons sake (use the real stuff, not "cooking sake" junk)
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 pound dried soba noodles
2 scallions thinly sliced
Yuzu kosho to taste

First, the notes: For liquid, you can use water, or Japanese chicken stock (bones, water and kombu only) or Shiitake dashi (dried Japanese shiitake steeped in water for at least 5 hours - use the reconstituted mushrooms in the hot pot). I used a combo of chicken stock and shiitake dashi for the heck of it, and it tasted great. Also, you want the liquid warm especially if you're using a donabe (earthenware pot); cold liquid might crack it in the pot (see what we do below). For the mushrooms, use any combination of cultivated Japanese mushrooms like shiitake, enoki or shimeji. I used reconstituted dried shiitake as well as fresh shiitake. Oyster mushrooms are great too, or if you're a mycologist like my buddy Sebastian, use any mushroom you happen to forage, as long as it doesn't kill you!

Prep the ingredients: For the abura age, place it in a colander and pour boiling water over it to get rid of excess oil, then slice into thin strips. For shiitake, remove and discard the stems, and slice in half or thirds (depending on size - you want things bite-sized for chopsticks). For enoki, shimeji or oysters, cut off the ends and separate the clumps by hand.

To cook: Add the sesame oil to your pot (I'm partial to Japanese earthenware donabe or Le Creuset, especially their fantastic shallow braiser pot) and place over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken, cooking and stirring, until the pieces turn golden. Sprinkle salt.

Randomly pile the mushrooms, abura age, and napa cabbage over the chicken. Sautee for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring and cooking until mushrooms and cabbage begin to soften. Add the liquid and slide the pieces of kombu under the ingredients. Add the sake, mirin and soy sauce.

Cover and bring to a boil. When the liquid boils, uncover the pot and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove any scum that appears on the surface. Taste and adjust the flavoring, adding more soy sauce or mirin if you like (make sure to balance the sweet/savory tastes).

Break the dried soba in half and stick into the pot. Make sure the noodles are submerged in the liquid. If you need more liquid, add it. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the noodles are ready. Stir occasionally to make sure all the noodles are cooking evenly. Taste the noodles; as soon as they're cooked through, it's ready.

Transfer the hot pot to the dining table. Serve in rounds in small bowls. Add a dab of yuzu kosho to the broth and sprinkle some in thinly sliced scallions. Enjoy!

Posted by Harris Salat in Chicken | Permalink | Comments (8) | Email | Print

Comments (8)

This sounds great! I was out of town and missed the year-end bowl of soba with my tea class in December, so I'm going to make up for it with this recipe over the weekend. Thans for another great post.
Hey Harris, how many servings do you figure this recipe makes? It does sound yummy.
Oops, forgot to mention -- serves 4! Thanks, Harris
I don't know why I keep forgetting to put Konbu into my pots...well, as promised I posted on my Hot Pot and here's the link....that post is dedicated to you and my re-introduction to this kind of cooking because it truly rocks to eat this way. However, like all bad girls; I cheated on the broth and after this recipe the cheat really wasn't worth it...
Thanks for the recipe Harris. I made this hot pot tonight and it was delicious - a comforting meal for a rainy (in SF) February evening. The yuzu kosho (green kind) was the perfect condiment. Cheers!
I'm going to try a variation on this tonight, using oyster mushrooms, atsu age, daikon and maybe some kabocha squash (I don't eat chicken). I'll be making more than I can eat, so won't want to add all of the soba noodles, they will turn into paste while they sit in the refrigerator before I eat the hot pot again. So I'd like to get your advice about how to eat this or other noodle-containing hot pots as leftovers. Should I cook some extra noodles and add them upon reheating the broth and vegetables? Or should I add dry noodles to the hot broth after reheating and wait for them to cook?
Hi Marc, this sounds like it's going to be a great hot pot! I agree, you should cook the noodles separately in this case, and add them directly to your serving bowls. This way you can keep leftovers without the noodles in them -- the noodles would absorb all the liquid, as you suspect. When reheating leftovers, why not whip up a fresh batch of noodles to go with them? Enjoy.............. Harris
I made this over the wekkend and it was really a perfect combination of ingredients, and also very easy to scale down (or up, I suppose!). Thanks for posting!

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