It’s that time of the year again, where my apartment gets unbelievably cold and the only thing that can warm me up is some boiled veggies in a nice hot broth. I love making hot pots because they’re so easy to make and are always a great low carb idea for dinner. This specific hot pot is called mille feuille nabe in Japanese because you stack pieces of pork belly inside napa cabbage leaves and layer them inside a clay pot to make it look like a mille feuille. The simple versions are usually just pork and cabbage, but I like to add a few more veggies and get a nice and hearty meal out of it. This Napa Cabbage & Pork Belly Japanese Hot Pot can be made in a clay pot, cast iron pot or even just a wok.
When you’re done stacking and piling all of the cabbage and pork inside the pot, you can top it with whatever else you want, if you choose to. This hot pot is traditionally cooked inside a fish broth, called dashi, and flavoured with lemon juice, salt and soy sauce. I swapped the soy sauce for coconut aminos in this recipe and it tasted the exact same. If you’ve never heard of dashi powder, it’s a Japanese fish broth that is usually sold in Asian supermarkets. It comes in little packets is granulated. If you can’t find it, you can always make your own fish stock by boiling bonito flakes for 10-15 minutes in water. If you can’t find bonito flakes either, just switch to a chicken, vegetable or pork stock. I prefer to use fish stock because I know that fish stock only has bonito flakes in it and nothing else, whereas vegetable or chicken stock can have a variety of ingredients added to it.
Because this dish goes so great with some sort of citric flavour, I usually like to add a few slices of lemon and also add a bit of grated daikon radish. This gives is a tangy taste that goes very well with the broth. I decided to add some carb/calorie-free shirataki noodles, shimeji mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, long green onions and garlic chives.
In Japan, we usually make small incisions on shiitake mushrooms so that it looks like a flower or a star and makes the food look aesthetically pleasing. It’s also quite popular to cut slices of carrots into different shapes using small cookie cutters. It’s common to make flower shapes, but since I didn’t have any flower shaped cookie cutters, I used some pig shaped cookie cutters and thought it was really funny because it went well with the ‘pork belly’ hot pot.
I love making hot pots, especially when friends or family come over, because you can just refill the broth with more veggies and meat over and over again and everyone can get some nice delicious ingredients boiled in a delicious broth. I like to make my hot pots on the middle of the table and just take the food directly from there so I usually use a portable gas burner. Having a portable gas stove can be even more handy when you run out of electricity or go camping. I buy a few canisters of butane fuel and the stove can last me a very long time.
- 1/4 napa cabbage (300g)
- 300g thinly sliced pork belly
- 150g shirataki noodles
- 6 shiitake mushrooms (100g)
- 1 package shimeji mushrooms (100g)
- 50g daikon (about 1/4 cup grated)
- 2 green onions
- 1/3 lemon
- 50g garlic chives (6-8 stems)
- 4 carrot slices (optional for decoration)
- 2.5 cups water (725ml)
- 1.5 tsp dashi powder (Japanese fish broth) (or vegetable/chicken/pork broth)
- 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
- 2 tsp organic lemon juice
- 2 tbsp coconut aminos
- If you're using a full napa cabbage, quarter it. Cut the edge of one quarter and carefully rinse each leaf as they usually have dirt tucked inside.
- Place one cabbage leaf, stem side on the right, on a cutting board and add 1-2 slices of pork belly over. Add one more cabbage leaf, stem side on the left, over the pork belly. Continue this process until you have used half the leaves and half the pork belly. Repeat this entire process with the last half.
- Cut the stacks in 5-8cm pieces. Start packing the stacks into a hot pot making a circle. The stacks should tightly fit in 25cm clay pot.
- Pull out the stems off the shiitake mushrooms and discard. Slice a third of a lemon into a few slices. Cut off the stem of the shimeji mushrooms. Grate the daikon radish with a yam grater and set aside in a bowl. Thinly slice the green onions. Open the shirataki bag, drain the water out, rinse the noodles in a sieve and cut them into 3-4 pieces as they tend to be extremely long. Slice a few slices of carrots if you wish to use some, or cut some shapes with some cookie cutters. Cut off the stems off the garlic chives and cut the chives into 3.
- Place the garlic chives in the middle of the hot pot over the cabbage and pork and top with the grated daikon. Add the shirataki noodles, shiitake mushrooms, shimeji mushrooms, green onions, lemon slices to the side around the daikon.
- Pour the water inside the pot, sprinkle in the dashi and salt, and add the coconut aminos and lemon juice.
- Put the pot over a portable gas stove
- , or a normal oven stove top, cover with the ceramic lid and let boil on medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Uncover and slowly push the rest of the ingredients inside the pot for them to cook another 5 minutes. All ingredients should be soft by now and are ready to eat.
- Take whatever piece of meat/veggies/noodles that's in the hot pot and put into a small serving bowl, add a bit of the stock over and enjoy 🙂