Nishime is one of my favorite ways to prepare vegetables and here is a version for settling into the cooler weather of Fall. It showcases many of the heartier root vegetables and winter squash that are just showing up at farmer’s markets in the Pacific Northwest. The amount of each vegetable can vary, but it is important to cut each vegetable with the goal of having them cook evenly. I usually do carrots a little bigger than daikon. Winter squash can be left with the skin on, but I cut any harder pieces off the skin first.
Nishime Style Vegetables2 inch slice of kombu, soaked for 10 minutes in water
1 medium onion sliced into thick wedges
1 1/2 cups winter squash such as kabocha, red kuri, delicata or butternut, remove seeds and any hard bits off the outside and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 cup daikon radish, cut into one inch chunks
2 medium carrots, cut into 1 1/2 inch slices
2 medium parsnips, cut into 1 1/2 inch slices
1. Slice the kombu into 4 pieces and lay in the bottom of a medium size, heavy bottom stainless steel or cast iron pot.
2. Layer each vegetable in the order listed. Fit them in snuggly.
3. Add a small amount of water down the side of the pot. This will be about 2-3 Tbsp depending on the diameter of the pot. The idea is to help the vegetables cook slowly in their own juices.
4. Place lid on the pot and bring to a boil on medium heat. As soon as you see steam coming out the top of the pot, lower the heat to a simmer.
5. Allow the vegetables to cook until almost tender. The time varies, but is usually about 25-30 minutes. Add about 1 1/2 tsp shoyu to the top, replace cover and gently shake the pot a few times to incorporate the shoyu. Cook for 7 more minutes.
Serves about 6.
Ideally, the quantity of vegetables just fills the pot you are using. It may take a few tries to learn how to cut the vegetables in sizes that create an evenly cooked dish. Use a flame tamer if you need to even out the heat from your burner.
Other vegetables to try: red radish, cabbage, burdock, sweet potato, rutabaga, dried daikon. Experiment!
I like to use an odd number of vegetables because I think it creates more of a dynamic energy to the dish. For this dish I frequently use three, five, or seven different types.