Japanese Root Vegetable Stew (Nishime) is an easy, healthy way to enjoy nutritious root vegetables. Nishime is a slow-braised dish that includes a variety of root vegetables. Meat is sometimes added, but the vegetarian version I’m sharing today is one a friend taught me how to make. The simplest recipe for nishime starts with a little water in a pot with a piece of kombu (a type of seaweed) in the center of the pot, surrounded by an assortment of root vegetables and other winter vegetables.
What is Nishime?
Nishime is a method of cooking vegetables that means waterless cooking. Vegetables are cut into large chunks and cooked slowly over low heat. I chose purple sweet potato, daikon, butternut squash, turnips, rutabaga and parsnips, but you can use whatever hard winter vegetables you have on hand.
If you use organic vegetables, scrub the skins and leave them on. Very little liquid is added to the pot, so the steam in the pot cooks the vegetables in their own juices. The vegetables are seasoned with sea salt, soy sauce or a little miso.
According to my friend Angela who invited me to her home to watch her make this simple Japanese root vegetable stew, nishime is a nourishing, healing stew. Angela simply used a piece of kombu and sea salt to season her nishime. Kombu can be found in Asian grocery stores, natural food stores, or online. I recently purchased a large bag of kombu from Maine Seaweed LLC, but I’ve also heard Maine Coast Sea Vegetables and Rising Tide Sea Vegetables (California) are good sources.
Nishime Flavor Additions
When I made this Japanese root vegetable stew, I couldn’t resist using dashi, ginger and dried shitake mushrooms for more flavor. A little miso can also be stirred in. The vegetables are cooked at a low heat, covered, until tender. The result is vegetables that are juicy and tender.
You can thicken the braising liquid in this Japanese root vegetable stew with a little kuzu root starch slurry if you like. Kuzu is supposed to soothe and strengthen the stomach and intestines. Serve with a little soy sauce if you like.
Nishime style vegetables are part of the macrobiotic diet and are believed to give strong, calm energy.
Japanese Vegetable Stew (Nishime)
You can use whatever root vegetables you can find, just be sure to use a variety.
- 1 organic rutabaga cut up
- 1 organic turnip cut up
- 1 organic small butternut squash peeled, seeded, cut up
- 1 small organic daikon radish cut up
- 1 small organic sweet potato cut up
- 3 dried shitake mushrooms
- 3 slices ginger
- 3 cups water or dashi
- 1 3" piece kombu
- sea salt or soy sauce to taste
- miso optional
Arrange vegetables, mushrooms, and kombu in the bottom of a large pot. Tuck ginger slices between vegetables. Pour dashi on top (enough so there is 1-2" of liquid in the pot) and season with a little sea salt or soy sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and cook until vegetables are tender, about 25-30 minutes.
Serve with extra soy sauce on the side if you wish.
Other vegetables that you might want to try are carrots, burdock, parsnips, cabbage, leeks, or lotus root.
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