Hot pot turns into a tea pot! A friend of mine made some shoyu braised pork with tea once, and that gave me an idea of using tea in cooking, which I had not done before at all, save for eating ochazuke (tea with rice) which doesn't really count as cooking. Taking advantage of the thinly sliced meats available here, I decided to do a shabu shabu nabe (hot pot) with tea and pork. I used Japanese hojicha for this since it has a woodsy flavor, and because I wanted to do a chazuke at the end with rice which would go better with a Japanese tea than an English tea. I chopped up some lettuce, mizuna greens, green shiso, daikon, white scallions, tomatoes and pea sprouts to have ready to scoop up with the shabu shabu pork, splashed together a dipping sauce and dug in. The tea doesn't impart a whole lot of flavor onto the pork but it does take away the porky smell. I've done a version of this dish in the summer, minus the hot pot, of course. Just shabu shabu the pork in a pot on the stovetop, cool the pork and arrange over the vegetables for a salad dish. Pretty simple and delicious.
450-500g thinly sliced pork
About 6 tablespoons Hojicha, in 2 paper tea bags
1 liter (5 cups) water
4 leaves of green leaf lettuce, julienned
1 bunch mizuna leaves, cut 2 inches (5cm) long
3 in. (7cm) long daikon, julienned
5 leaves shiso, julienned
1 tomato, cut into wedges
1 package of pea sprouts
1 garlic clove, peeled and grated
About 2 teaspoons grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablepoons shoyu
1/4 cup dashi
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon chopped green onions
1 red chili, seeded and chopped
Dashes of white pepper
In a ceramic nabe or pot, bring the water to a boil. Turn heat off and throw in the tea bags. You can also put the tea leaves in a wire mesh strainer and let the tea steep with the strainer in the pot. Let steep for about 10 minutes or until the color of the water is a deep brown.
Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients. If the pork is too long, cut the meat in half and lay on a plate. Arrange all the cut vegetables in individual plates.
Mix all the sauce ingredients together and pour into individual bowls for serving.
When you are ready to eat, take out the tea bags or strainer and bring the tea back to a boil. Lower to a simmer and start shabu shabu'ing the pork one at a time. Just swish the pork in the hot tea until no longer pink. Grab some veggies with your pork and eat it with the sauce. I dipped the pea sprouts in the tea to cook for just a tiny bit as they were a bit too raw beany for my taste. You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand or prefer.
After all the meat is cooked, skim the tea of scum. Put some hot white rice in individual bowls and pour some tea over.
Serve this with some Japanese pickles and you should have a filling meal.