Oyster Riverbank Stew – otherwise known as Kaki no Dote Nabe – is one of my favorite nabemono dishes. This stew uses both red and white miso as a powerful, pungent, decadent and seductive flavoring agent. The name riverbank probably refers to the bank of miso on the inside of the pot. There is an alternative story, though, that when this Hiroshima specialty was introduced into Edo (Tokyo) in the Edo period (1603-1867), it was brought by boat and sold on the banks of the river.
There are a wealth of nabemono (one-pot or hot-pot stews) in Japan, as they are considered a winter comfort food. I love nabemonos; so versatile and fun to make at the table with friends and family. It is the main style of communal cooking I do in the colder months here in the Bay area. Generally quick to prep and the combination of flavors and regional tastes are delicious and endless!
Oyster Riverbank Stew with Miso
In 1877, an American zoologist by the name of Edward Sylvester Morse (1838-1925) conducted the first scientific excavation of shell mounds of the Jomon and Incipient Jomon periods (9000-300 B.C.) in Omori, Tokyo. These ancient garbage dumps, which have since been found throughout Japan, were filled with the remains of a surprising diversity of foods: shells, fish bones, bones of game animals, acorns, and even rice.
What makes a successful nabe dish?
All the cooking is done at the dining table, so your ingredients can be prepped in advance and presented attractively on large decorative plates before cooking. Place on the table when ready to cook. Have your stock ready, seasoned and hot. Have a portable heating source so that your nabe can be cooked at the dining table. Have a heat-resistant pot (such as ceramic, cast-iron, or earthenware) ready for cooking your nabe. All cooking utensils, condiments, side dishes and drinks should also be on the table within easy reach of all your guests. Make sure while you and your guests are cooking, not to overcook any of the ingredients!
What’s your favorite nabe dish?
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Oyster Riverbank Stew with Miso
- 1 ¼ lb. medium sized fresh oysters, washed in salted water, rinsed well, and drained
- 1 block grilled tofu, drained and cut into large cubes
- 7-8 oz. daikon radish, peeled and cut into 2 inch squares
- 7-8 oz. shungiku, (chrysanthemum leaves) and/or mitsuba (trefoil), washed, trimmed, and cut into 2 – inch lengths
- 7 oz. Japanese leeks, longer and less coarse than regular leeks, washed, trimmed, and cut diagonally into 2-inch lengths
- Optional vegetables: enokidake or shiitake mushrooms, Chinese cabbage
- ½ cup red miso such as hatcho miso
- 2 tablespoons sweet white miso
- 3 tablespoons sake
- 3 tablespoons mirin, sweet sake
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 3 cups or more dashi, fish stock (make homemade or combine 1 teaspoon instant dashi granules to every 3 cups hot water)
- 4-5 very fresh raw eggs, optional, one per person for dipping sauce
- Prepare the oysters and all the vegetables, and arrange attractively on a large serving plate.
- In a small bowl, combine the two misos, sake, mirin, and sugar to make a thick, spreadable paste. Adjust to suit your taste (white miso is sweeter and red miso is saltier).
- Line the whole heat-resistant pot (ceramic, cast-iron, or earthenware) with a layer of miso paste and then press the daikon squares into the miso, using a rubber spatula to coat the daikon with the rest of the paste to hold the squares in place. To increase the flavor, place the nabe over a high heat and slightly scorch the miso mixture for a moment, until its pungent aroma can be smelt.
- Bring the nabe to the dining table, place over a portable gas or electric ring, and turn the heat on high. Add a selection of ingredients and half the dashi stock. Bring to the boil, then turn heat down to a simmer. Give each guest an egg to beat and use as a dipping sauce if desired.
- As you eat, scoop the miso into the stock. The oysters are done when they begin to curl around the edges-don’t overcook. Add more oysters, vegetables, tofu and stock as needed. If using, dip cooked ingredients into a beaten raw egg as your dipping sauce.
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