This is mostly vegetarian/vegan, except that the broth that everything cooks in is a fish base broth. Aya did say there are seaweed based broths available if you really wanted it to be true vegetarian.
When we sat down to eat, Aya said, “This tastes like Japan.” I took that as a good sign.
It’s a lightly flavored broth with a little soy sauce and rice wine. So the vegetables don’t really have a strong flavor. But from what Aya says, it’s very Japanese.
Aya said dishes like this with simmered vegetables are very common for a typical dinner in Japan. It’s usually accompanied by soup, rice, and two other small dishes. I served it with gyoza, and a daicon salad.
Nimono (Simmered Tofu w/ Vegetables)*Recipe from the book Japanese Cooking by Emi Kazuko
4 dried shiitake mushrooms
2 atsu-age (fried tofu) 7oz. each
3/4 cup cut green beans
1 tsp rice
4oz. carrot, peeled and cut into 1cm thick slices
11oz. baby potatoes, unpeeled
3 cups dashi stock
2 Tbsp sugar
5 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp sake
1 Tbsp mirin
Soak the dried shiitake in one cup of water for 2 hours. Drain and discard the liquid. Remove and discard the stalks.
Peel the daikon and slice into 1cm discs. Plunge into cold water.
Put the atsu-age in a sieve, and wash off the excess oil with hot water from the kettle. Drain and cut into pieces of about 1 x 2 in.
Boil the green beans for 2 minutes and then drain them, cooling them under running water.
Cover the daikon with water in a pan and add the rice. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 15 minutes, then drain. Discard the rice.
Put the atsu-age and the mushrooms, carrot and potatoes into the pan with the daikon. Add the dashi stock, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Regularly skim off any scum that comes to the surface. Add the sugar, soy sauce and sake. Mix the ingredients thoroughly.
Cut wax paper into a circle smaller than the pan lid. Place the paper inside the pan to seal the ingredients (I didn’t do this part). Cover with the lid and simmer for 30 minutes or until sauce reduces by half. Add the green beans for two minutes so that they just warm through.
Remove the paper and add the mirin. Taste the sauce and adjust with soy sauce if required. Remove from the heat.
Arrange the ingredients attractively in groups on a large servings plate. Pour over a little sauce and serve warm or cold.