Simmered Vegetables (Nishime) is often served in New Year’s feasts. Various vegetables are cooked in slightly sweet soy-based broth. A good dashi stock and meticulous preparation of each ingredient are the keys to a good-looking dish.
If you use konbu dashi for dashi stock, you can make it a vegan dish.
Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
Lotus roots: peel the skin thinly and slice into 8mm / 5⁄16” thick pieces.
Optional:Take each slice and make shallow V-shape incisions between the holes around the circle to make the lotus slice look like a flower (see the photo in the post).
Shiitake mushrooms: Squeeze water out and remove the stems. Preserve the water (shiitake dashi).
Taro: Cut the top and bottom ends off. Peel skin vertically.
Konnyaku: Slice into 8mm / 5⁄16” thick pieces. Make 2.5cm / 1" incision in the centre of each slice lengthwise. Make a twisted konnyaku by putting one end through the incision.
Carrot: Slice the carrot into 1cm / ⅜” thick discs.
Optional: Using a flower-shaped vegetable cutter, cut each slice into flowers (note 5). Curve each flower-shaped slice and make nejiri-ume (note 6).
Bring water in a small pot to a boil. Add a pinch of salt and blanch for a minute. Drain and cool them down quickly in cold running water. Pat dry. If your snow peas are large, cut them in half diagonally.
Cook for about 10 minutes until the carrots are cooked through. Turn the heat off and let it cool (leave carrots in the broth).
Place lotus roots, taro, shiitake mushrooms and konnyaku on a serving plate, clustering the same vegetables together.
1. The quantity of vegetables can vary but it is good to have a balanced quantity of each ingredient.
You can also add or replace the ones in this recipe with burdock, bamboo shoots and green beans.
2. If you cannot find fresh lotus roots, you can buy sliced frozen lotus roots from Japanese/Asian grocery stores. They might come in halved slices but that’s OK.
3. My taro was small, about 5cm / 2” long. I can't always use small taros as very large taros are more commonly available where I live.
If you can only find a large one, cut into smaller cuboids and remove the edges to prevent them from breaking.
4. If your snow peas are large, you need fewer of them and cut in half diagonally after blanching.
5. Vegetable cutters are just like cookie cutters but much smaller (about 3cm / 1¼" in diameter) and the edge is very sharp. I used the shape of a plum flower (see the photo in post).
To make a plum flower shape from a slice of carrot using a knife instead of a cutter: Peel the skin. Make 5 small V-shaped cuts around the edge of the round slice in equal spacing. Shape the edges of the petals by removing pointy edges. If you have no time, you don’t need to make them into flower shapes but peel the skin.
6. How to make nejiri-ume (see the photos in post):