Salmon, vegetables, miso… Cold days are perfect for nutritious meals that warms the soul – Ishikari Nabe is Hokkaido’s famous seafood hotpot that will conquer your heart.
You know, I’m not from Hokkaido Prefecture and I’m dying to visit the region someday – it’s such an interesting place but I haven’t found the chance to go there yet.
Well, in the meantime… Since we’re not going out too often at present time, why not enjoy ourselves with their delicious food at home? The local cuisine from the largest and northernmost prefecture of Japan is simply mouth-watering and often a perfect plan for cold days. Today we will make one of their undeniably wonderful dishes: Ishikari Nabe.
Basically, Ishikari Nabe is a traditional hotpot recipe that brings together the best ingredients from the seas and land of Hokkaido. Mixing salmon, potatoes, corn, as well other assorted seafood and vegetables, the dish is served in an appetizing butter miso stock.
The origins of Ishikari Nabe are most likely connected to the fishermen from Ishikari River in Hokkaido – it is possible to trace a connection between the dish and another traditional recipe called Sanpei Jiru (三平汁), a miso soup with salmon cut leftovers and cooked vegetables.
The Kindaitei (金大亭) in Ishikari city is known for being the first restaurant to serve Ishikari Nabe on their menu. This place serves an assortment of dishes that celebrates the best ingredients available from the Hokkaido region. I presume that’s why butter – an unconventional ingredient in traditional Japanese dishes, but also a very famous local product – is added to the broth.
So, let’s start cooking! My seafood selection for tonight: fillets of salmon, scallops, oysters and salmon roe – as these are in season right now. Other often recommended seafood ingredients are shrimps, crabs, mussels and white fish fillets. Of course, as I usually say, look out for what is fresher and more available in your area.
For the shime (also known as the “end of the meal”), well… What goes best with that amazing broth? It’s very interesting, when you google it, the online debate on which is the best shime for ishikari nabe is quite never-ending.
Traditionally, Hokkaido nabes uses udon noodles or zōsui. However, nowadays many people prepare/order ramen noodles for shime, since the worldwide famous Hokkaido miso ramen is also very beloved dish. Another even more modern approach is… pasta noodles! Which one do you like the best? (It’s hard to choose, isn’t it? They all sound great…)
- 1L of dashi stock (katsuobushi and kombu)
- 2½ tbsp miso
- 2 tbsp sake
- 2 tbsp mirin
- Salt, sugar
- 20 g of butter
- 100g of boneless salmon pieces
- 50g of scallops
- 50g of oysters
- 25g of salmon roe
- 1 potato, cooked until soft
- 1 corn cob, cooked and without the cob
- ¼ of hakusai (chinese cabbage), cut in slices
- 1 carrot, cut in slices
- 4 shiitake mushrooms
- a bunch of shimeji mushrooms
- White portion of negi, cut diagonally
- Half square of tofu
- ramen noodles
- First, prepare the dashi stock.
- Stir in the miso, the mirin, and the sake to the dashi. Taste test and adjust seasonings to taste.
- Prepare the ingredients. Cut the carrot and the negi in diagonal slices, cut the tofu block in bite-size cubes.
- Arrange the ingredients in the pot.
- After that, turn the heat on to medium-low and add the hot stock.
- Place the butter on top and put the lid on.
- Let the ingredients cook until done.
- Finally, add the scallops and the oysters, letting them cook very briefly (until tender) in the broth.
- Serve the dish with salmon roe and white rice.
If you have a whole salmon in hands, try using the head and the bones for an extra flavorful dashi stock.
Do not let the seasoned dashi stock boil, as this affects the miso flavor.
It’s very easy to overcook some of the seafood included in this recipe – for instance, pay a good attention to scallops and oysters. Also, do not add the fresh roe directly to the boiling broth, overcooked roe is not flavorful as its fresh version.