I recently enjoyed a staggeringly good dinner at Tadashi Ono's cavernous Matsuri restaurant anchored in Manhattan's Maritime Hotel. He personally selected a recipe for a Halibut Hot Pot from his new book, Japanese Hot Pots, to be featured here. Domo Arigato Tadashi!
Halibut Hot Pot
Inspired by Ara Nabe (a variety of grouper from Fukuoka)
1 pound halibut fillet
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for curing the fish (to concentrate the flavor and make the fish denser)
2 (6-inch) pieces kombu
1 ounce harusame (thin, tranparent starchy noodles), soaked in water for 15 minutes
1/2 pound napa cabbage, sliced
1 negi (a Japanese onion, or sub two large scallions per negi), sliced on angle into 2-inch pieces
1/2 package (about 1/2 pound) firm tofu, cut into 4 pieces
6 ounces oyster mushrooms, trimmed and pulled apart
3 1/2 ounces (half of a 200-gram package) enoki mushrooms, trimmed and pulled apart
4 cups water
1 cup sake
1 cup ponzu (the sweet citrusy ponzu sauce may be found in Japanese markets), for dipping
1/4 cup momiji oroshi (a blend of Japanese chilies and daikon available in Japanese markets), for garnish
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh chives, for garnish
To cure the halibut, very lightly salt it on both sides and place it in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the fish, wipe off excess moisture on its surface with a paper towel, and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices. Set aside.
Place the kombu on the bottom of a hot pot and the harusame over the kombu. Place the cabbage, negi, tofu, oyster mushrooms, and enoki mushrooms on top of the harusame, arranging each ingredient in a separate, neat bunch. Pour in the 4 cups water and the sake, and sprinkle in the 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Cover the hot pot and bring it to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Uncover the pot and arrange the halibut slices on top of the other ingredients. Simmer until the fish is cooked through, about 5 minutes more.
While the hot pot is simmering, pour the ponzu into four small bowls.
Transfer the hot pot ot the dining table. Garnish the ponzu with the momiji oroshi and the chives. Dip the ingredients into the ponzu, and eat.
Serve with rice zosui:
This is basically a soupy rice, a shime that typically complements thinner, more delicate broths. The technique is simple. For four servings, add 2 cups cooked Japanese short grain rice to the remaining broth in a hot pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat. As soon as the hot pot boils, turn off the heat, mix the contents well, and serve in individual bowls.
You can also prepare this hot pot with cod, Chilean sea bass, turbot, pollack, North American grouper, or barramundi.
Tableside Cooking Option:
Arrange the ingredients on serving platters. After curing the halibut, do all the cooking at the dining table. Add the supporting ingredients all at once, or reserve half or more to cook later. Cook a little of the fish at a time.
To order Tadashi's marvelous book, click here or here!