Monday, September 10, 2012

Recipe: Healthy Japanese Nimono

I've been trying out some new recipes over the summer and hit on a particularly simple one that's both healthy and cheap to make--helping it fit right in with Dan's current selection of AccessJ posts on saving money in Japan. Better yet, a post like this is an easy place to review some Japanese kitchen words. So, get your pot in one hand and memo pad in the other; we're about to cook up some good old Japanese nimono (煮物)!


  • Pot (I use your garden variety one-handled pot, or 片手鍋, katate nabe)
  • Lid (蓋, futa)
  • Ladle (お玉, otama)
  • Kitchen Knife (包丁, houchou)

  • Vegetables You Like, chopped into bite sized chunks
    • I used these, which aren't exactly traditional: 
    • 2 Potatoes (ジャガイモ, jagaimo)
    • 2 Carrots (人参, ninjin)
    • 1 Onion (玉葱, tamanegi)
    • 4~5 Snap Beans (インゲン豆, ingenmame)
  • Pork, 150 grams (optional), sliced thin and chopped into bite sized pieces
  • Broth, made from:
    • Powdered Dashi Mix (だしの素, dashi no moto), 3 grams
    • Mirin (みりん), 1.5 tbsp*
    • Soy Sauce (醤油, shouyu), 3 tbsp
    • Sugar (砂糖, satou), about 3 grams**
    • Water (水, mizu), 300 ml
  • Vegetable Oil (サラダ油, sarada yu), 1 tbsp

Get outta there, cauliflower!
1. Heat the vegetable oil in your pot, then throw in the chopped vegetables. Stir-fry them briefly until they have been coated in the oil.
2. Add the broth mixture to the pot and bring everything to a boil. If you are using meat, add it now.
3. Once boiling, reduce heat and cover the pot with a lid. Continue to simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
4. Remove the lid and continue boiling liquid away until only a small amount remains. (I boil until only about a quarter of the initial level remains, but this step is to taste.)
5. Serve. The resulting nimono stands on its own or goes well with rice.

*Mirin (みりん) is a sweet Japanese rice wine used for cooking. It has a light yellow, almost clear appearance and is available in the condiments section of your supermarket.
**I just use a stick of sugar, like one you'd pour into coffee or tea. It's roughly the right amount (they vary from about 3 to 5 grams, and 5 grams is not too much sugar for this recipe) and much more convenient for me to store than a big package of sugar, since I don't use it often in my cooking.

I estimate the cost of this recipe at about 320 yen without meat, 470 yen with. I get 2~3 servings out of it (or a dinner plus lunch for the next day or two), depending on how hungry I am. If you shop competitively for your vegetables, as opposed to assuming 50 yen per carrot and potato, you can cut cost down a bit more.

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