Some news: we’re moving back to Hawaii this week. I lived there from 2001 to 2008, and met my wife Janey there in 2002. Even though it’s been over 11 years since we left, and I spent my first 20 years in Washington state, I still consider Hawaii home. I wrote a little about what this state means to me a few years ago, in my Hawaii Oxtail Soup recipe. Janey is especially excited to get back to her hometown, and to spend time with friends and relatives we’ve only seen a precious few times during our years away. The boys will be going to the same schools their mother attended as a child, and they’re pretty stoked, too.
So to celebrate this return to home, I’m sharing my mother-in-law’s Nishime (vegetable stew) recipe. To be honest, when we lived there, my wife and I weren’t huge fans of this dish — its earthy and subdued flavors are a far cry from the savory, sweet, and crunchy delights you can find out in town. But since moving away we’ve come to appreciate the comforting warmth that Nishime can impart.
Note that this recipe is difficult to make without access to a local Japanese grocery store. For example, nishime kombu is a softer version of the more popular dashi kombu seaweed you can find in most asian markets, but is not sold online. Similarly, fresh burdock root (gobo) can only be found in person. And finally, you’ll want to find a block of konnyaku (the same material used to make shirataki noodles), which is not easy to find online either. All this is not meant to dissuade you from trying this recipe — far from it — but to let you know that this is a hard recipe to replicate if you don’t have access to a Japanese grocer. And because of its simple seasoning (just a bit of dashi, tamari, and honey), each of the ingredients are pretty important to get that signature nishime flavor (although there is a bit of wiggle room here — losing an ingredient or two won’t break the dish).
I’ll be taking the next two weeks off from posting while we move everything from Virginia to Hawaii. Hope you have a happy holidays and see you after the New Year.