In the aftermath of my musings on cold-weather warmer-uppers, I found this recipe for nabe.  I haven’t tried it yet myself (only because I don’t have a suitable pot).  Anyone else willing to try it out and tell me how it goes?

If I were to make this, I think I’d chose potatoes from Group A, fish chunks, shrimp and mussels for meat, leeks (if I could find them) or a yellow onion from Group B, and all sorts of mushrooms, though especially shiitake and enoki.  Then some tofu.  From Group C I’d pick cabbage and top it off with spinach.  And I’d definitely add ramen noodles at the end.  Duh.

Can’t wait to hear what you try!

Cold Weather Firsts

It has been chilly here in Tokyo.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to complain about the cold — since it is currently 21 degrees F (-6 degrees C) and snowing at my parents’ house in Minneapolis, and that’s after, according to my dad, “it had warmed up overnight.”

Here is the forecast for Tokyo this week:

Fear not, Americans — this is Celsius.  OK, so maybe it is not that cold…

That’s more like it.

But my parents house in Minneapolis is cozy, and my apartment in Tokyo is not.  The building is poorly insulated and my curtains sway with the breeze, get my draft drift?  50 degrees F (10 degrees C) feels chilly when you are inside.  I bought a pair of legwarmers and actually wear them.  And not ironically.

A drafty chill is the norm around Tokyo during the winter months, but there are plenty of other ways to keep warm.  This weekend I got to try a few for the first time.

Nabe 鍋 is a traditional winter dish, a one-pot soup or stew that cooks right at the table and is shared with friends or family.  Perhaps a little humble and unassuming, this soup pot of friendship warmed me right to the core.  You get to watch the broth bubble and then poke and pick out your favorite bits.  It was delightful.  Ours featured spicy sauce and soy milk, tantan tonyu nabe 担担豆乳鍋.  I probably just made-up that word, but it doesn’t matter because the soup was delicious.  Sorry for the poor cellphone photo – I was too excited to take the time to get a real camera.

My other cold weather first this weekend was to cuddle under a kotatsu 炬燵, a small table with a heating unit underneath that you cover with a heavy blanket.  Don’t even ask me about fire hazards, because all I know is that the kotatsu is my new love.

Doesn’t it look cozy?  A friend has a kotatsu with a pit underneath where you can dangle your legs and play anonymous footsie games.  There are a few months of winter left, so I’m thinking I can justify finding a kotatsu of my own.  If it works out, you won’t hear from me until spring.