Guys, what’s not good without bacon?
We all know how everything tastes better with bacon and even Oishinbo recognized this fact!
When Kurita’s grandmother was getting suspicious of her friend’s disappearances, she asks Kurita to investigate what her friend was up to. They ended up looking in a shack with nothing but an empty nabe in the middle. Unable to solve this mystery, Kurita turns to Yamaoka for help.
Smokin’ in the Shed
As it turns out, the empty nabe pot was used to experiment on smoking a good slab of bacon.
While I won’t be going through the details of the smoking process myself, just know that these guys had some time to entertain themselves with the idea of making their own smoked bacon. Their experiment was a hit and miss but finally, with Yamaoka’s help, they managed to make their own bacon and celebrated it with a nabe.
Nabe is basically a claypot and for the Japanese, having nabe for dinner means taking out a big claypot to cook a soup of vegetables and your choice of proteins. Nabe is usually cooked at the dinner table, with a small gas stove that keeps the soup boiling. Nabe is also large thus it’s a communal meal often shared with guests.
Clearly, such Japanese normalities is not available for us. I’m quite sure that not everyone would own nabe nor does anyone have a convenience of cooking over their dinner table. On the occasion that you don’t have a nabe, do you have other options?
If you happen to like Morocco cuisine and have a tagine, then you can use that. If you have a shallow pot, then that’s fine too. Just think that the pot has to be shallow enough for you stuff with vegetables without it being boiled under the stock. While cooking with nabe is technically boiling, the trick is, your vegetables should add flavor to the stock and not lost with stock. I think a regular sauteeing pan can also do the trick in the absence of nabe. As long as your pot can keep the heat for some while, it’ll do. Deep pots are an absolute no-no for nabe.
Smoked Bacon Nabe (Oishinbo, Vol. 28)
Ingredients (serves 2-3)
- 2 cups of chicken broth (or 2 cups of water with 1 cube bouillon)
- 2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 3 small-medium sized onions/6 shallots, peeled
- 3-6 leaves Chinese cabbage (Napa Cabbage)/cabbage, (this depends on how big your leaves are and how much you like cabbage)
- 6 slices of smoked bacon
- pepper and salt
Now on to cooking!
1. In your pot/nabe, boil the chicken chicken broth. In Oishinbo, he suggests that it should be stock made from chicken’s red meat (thigh/rib area.) And while I’d like to think that we’re not as good as that, the chicken broth trick will suffice. If you feel
2. Boil the potatoes and the onions in the stock until tender.
3. Put the bacon over the vegetables and let it simmer for a 3 minutes.
4. Once the bacon is half-cooked, add the cabbage and let it boil for 5-8 minutes.
5. Get your portion of the dish by serving it in smaller bowls
6. Add pepper and salt to taste
I ate this with some soy sauce and ginger in my serving bowl since I like eating my nabe that way. Also, if you look at the picture, I also ate it with mushrooms and tofu because I love those in my nabe. See, anything goes with the nabe as soon as it hits your personal serving bowl. As it is, this dish has a lovely smokey flavor from the bacon. In this dish, the bacon is the king. If you want to add more bacon to pay homage to this lovely protein, then by all means, add more bacon and just enjoy this dish.
I must say, my only regret is that our local smoked bacon was not good enough. Oh if only I had good access to awesome smokers in this town! I’m quite sure some people would have this to their advantage!