Nobody would call The Last Tea Bowl Thief’s Robin Swann a gourmet cook, but she makes a mean Sesame-Miso Hotpot for herself as she begins tracing the ownership of the missing tea bowl.
I think you’ll find that this is the perfect cozy dish as fall deepens into winter! You can cook it on the stove and serve it in bowls for a savory meal that’s not only super tasty, it’s as healthy as you can get.
But I can’t resist telling you, the traditional Japanese way of cooking fresh ingredients at the table in a clay pot is extra-magical. I make it when I invite people for dinner who don’t know each other very well, because cooking at the table somehow always leads to great conversations and lasting friendships.
And if—like Robin—you’re eating solo, what could be more perfect than sitting at your table with a good book and putting goodies into the pot until you’re full, then saving the rest? (I’ll post pictures at the end of the stove and pot you’d need to cook at the table—I think you’ll be surprised by how little you have to buy and how easy & inexpensive it is to get!)
Japanese Sesame-Miso Hotpot
As this tasty broth bubbles away and fills your kitchen with cozy goodness, you’ll forget that this dish is as healthy as it is satisfying
For the broth:
3 c. (700ml) dashi (Japanese smoked bonito soup stock, which can be made with boiling water and instant Hon-Dashi* granules)
¼ c. (32g) miso (I mix half white miso, half red miso)
2 T. (30ml) mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine for cooking)
1 T. (15ml) tahini or Japanese nerigoma (sesame paste)
1 t. (10g) sugar
*I double these amounts for my family-sized pot
What to put in your hotpot:
• Boneless, skinless, chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces and marinated for a few hours before serving
• Carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
• Leeks, sliced diagonally into two-inch lengths
• Shiitake mushrooms (or your current favorite), stems removed
• Firm tofu, cut into bite-sized pieces
• Napa cabbage, sliced crosswise and halved OR spinach OR other leafy greens (the bitterness of dark greens is beautifully offset by the richness of the sesame-miso broth), washed well and torn into large pieces
The key to this hotpot is adding the ingredients at the right time, starting with the things that take longest to cook (the meat) followed by the carrots, leeks, mushrooms and tofu in turn. Don’t stir in the leafy greens until you’re ready to eat, because they’ll cook pretty much instantly.
If you’re cooking at the table, this is much less important, because everybody can help themselves from the pot as various ingredients are ready!
So, what do you need to cook at the table?
Some Japanese clay pots you can get online
Some options for tabletop burners
I hope you love this as much as I do, and I’m all ears if you find other things that are awesome to cook at the table too!
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More Japanese home cooking recipes are in the JAPANAGRAM ARCHIVE
The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon
“The brilliance of this novel sneaks up on you as the pieces of its puzzle come together.” —Mac Salman, Tokyo Authority