Shojin Kinoko Nabe
Serves 4 as part of a multicourse meal
Equipment: One 1.5-quart/1.5 L or larger classic-style donabe
Whenever I serve this dish, guests are always surprised by how these few simple ingredients can produce such a rich and complex broth. The key is sun-drying the mushrooms for half a day to a full day, until they’re semidried, before cooking. If you can’t find a good outdoor space, use a sunny spot indoors to let the mushrooms sunbathe. The umami level of the mushrooms intensifies when they are dried in the sun, and the texture becomes meatier. If you can’t find enoki, eryngii, or shimeji mushrooms, shiitake and maitake would also be good in this dish. Use at least two kinds of mushrooms.
Make sure you start heating the broth after adding the kombu and mushrooms, as the umami flavors are released from these ingredients during the slow heating process. – Naoko
7 ounces (200 g) enoki mushrooms
8 ounces (240 g) eryngii (king trumpet) mushrooms
5 ounces (150 g) shimeji mushrooms
3 cups (750 ml) water
1 (3 by 6-inch/7 by 15cm) square piece kombu
1⁄4 cup (60 ml) sake
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons usukuchi shoyu (light-colored soy sauce)
1 (14-ounce/400 g) package soft tofu, cut into 8 pieces
5 ounces (150 g) mizuna (including stems), bottom ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch (5 cm) pieces
1 teaspoon thinly shredded yuzu rind or Meyer lemon rind
Shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven-spice blend), for serving
To sun-dry the mushrooms, trim the enoki and pull them apart. Trim the eryngii mushrooms and cut them into 1⁄4-inch (5 mm) slices. Leave the shimeji mushrooms whole, as it’s easier to sun-dry them when they remain connected and trim them afterward.
Spread the mushrooms in baskets (or on trays) in an even layer only loosely overlapping. Leave the baskets in the sun outside, if possible, until the mushrooms have shrunk slightly and their surface is dry, 3 to 4 hours (on a hot summer day) to a full day (on a mild winter day) during the daytime. Turn the mushrooms over a couple of times during the drying period. When ready, rinse the mushrooms gently and quickly, and pat dry. Trim the shimeji mushrooms and pull apart.
Combine the water and kombu in the donabe and let the kombu soak for 30 minutes. Add the sake, mirin, soy sauce, and all the mushrooms. Cover and set over medium heat. Just before the broth comes to a simmer, remove the kombu.
Add the tofu and cover again. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until the tofu is just heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the mizuna and sprinkle with the yuzu rind. Let the mizuna wilt (about 1 minute or so), and then turn off the heat. Serve in individual bowls at the table and sprinkle with shichimi togarashi.