All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Ishikari-nabe / Ishikari hot pot with salmon, tofu and vegetables

A specialty nabe hot pot from the Ishikari region in Hokkaido. Along with salmon, produce for which Hokkaido is famous -- potatoes, onions and cabbage, and even butter as an option -- are added, making this dish unique.


(Serves 3-5)

1-2 fillets salmon (steelhead in photo)
1 soft tofu
10 cm gobo burdock root
10 cm carrot
1 potato
1/2 medium onion
3 leaves cabbage 
Large handful shungiku chrysanthemum
Small handful (50 g) konnyaku noodles
1/2 pack enoki mushroom
900-1000 cc kobu-dashi (10cm square kombu kelp piece soaked in water)
3 tbsp sake
1-2 tbsp (30 g) sakekasu sake lees (hard/pressed type)
1-2 tbsp white miso
1 tbsp red miso

Soy sauce (add toward the end as necessary, not in photo)
1 thin slice butter (option, not in photo)
2 cloves garlic (option, not in photo)


Soak kombu kelp piece in water (kobu-dashi) in a pot for at least 10 minutes (30 minutes or longer preferred), then start to heat on low.


Prep boil konnyaku noodles, and cut 7-10 cm long.

Slice gobo and carrot 7-8 mm thick. Soak gobo in water for a few minutes to prevent discoloration, and drain.

Slice potato 1-1.5 cm thick. Cut onion into 2-3 cm-wide wedges. Cut cabbage and shungiku into 4-5 cm. Cut off bottom ends of enoki. Cut tofu into relatively thick pieces.


Loosely wrap gobo and carrot in plastic and microwave for 20-30 seconds. 

 Unwrap, and add to pot.

 When water is almost boiling, remove kombu..
Add potato  and sake to pot, cover, and cook on medium low heat until potato is relatively soft (not cooked through).


In the meantime, cut salmon into smaller pieces, shimofuri blanch, clean, and set aside.


Take some liquid from pot, add to sakekasu and white miso, and soften. A suribachi mortar works great for this job.

Do the same with red miso, but in a separate bowl.


Add onion and thick (white) part of cabbage, and continue cooking. When cabbage is done, add the remaining cabbage, konnyaku noodles and salmon.

When vegetables in nabe pot are cooked, add sakekasu and white miso, then red miso (2/3 of specified amount at first). Taste, and add more as necessary. If soup still does not have enough flavor, add a little soy sauce.

Add tofu and enoki.

Take pot to the table, place on portable stove, and continue cooking on low heat.

Add shungiku at the very end.

Add butter and garlic (grated) as desired, and eat hot.

  • Nabe means "pot." Nabe as a food category means "hot pot." Japanese hot pot is usually cooked in clay pots. Iron pots are also relatively popular.
  • For Ishikari-nabe, salmon ara (bony parts near head) is often used alone or with fillets. Very fresh ara is available at Uwajimaya (Seattle) and other Asian grocery stores in our area.
  • The entire process, especially toward the end, can be done on a portable stove at the table.
  • Ingredients are added to the pot beginning with the ones that take longer to cook. Gobo and carrot take the longest among the above ingredients, and microwaving them even briefly cuts down on cooking time.
  • With all hot-pot dishes, ingredients that take a relatively short time (tender vegetables, mushrooms, tofu, seafood, meat) are often added to broth as you eat. In the recipe above, I added only some of each ingredient in advance so that we could immediately start eating at the table; additional ingredients are added as you eat and room for more becomes available in the pot. 
  • The broth of nabe dishes is another bonus. After all ingredients are gone, rice or noodles are often added to the broth as the final touch of the meal.

  • With this Ishikari-nabe, the next day I made zosui (rice cooked in broth and other ingredients) by adding rice, one lightly beaten egg and one thinly sliced green onion (after diluting broth with dashi and adjusting with soy sauce).

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