After having observed our director’s yummy looking bento at lunch, we decided to try another experiment in Japanese cooking. Simmered vegetables (googling for a recipe, we found out that it’s likely to be called Nimono (boiled things)). He had told us roughly the ingredients and how it is done. It sounded easy enough, so we tried our luck at the supermarket. Some daikon (giant white radish), lotus root, carrots, mushrooms. We thought why not also try a bit of egg plant and echalottes. Since some other root whose name I forgot was supposed to go in as well, we also chose a piece of a long root that looked right to us. Then sheets of fried tofu, soy sauce and mirin.
Of course we knew that trying to cook something with ingredients we are not used to with only very sketchy oral instructions is a bit of a long shot, but we were curious to see if we could do it.
We sliced the vegetables up and simmered them in dashi (fish soup stock). The unknown root gave off a startling amount of slime when cut. During the simmering process, it disintegrated completely (Japanese people, stop laughing already). Since we were not informed about cooking times, we just put everything in together and left it like we thought fit. It turns out that daikon cooks faster than carrots…. Also the egg plants dissolved mostly. We only put in the soy sauce and the mirin at the end. This might have been a mistake as well, since recipes we found on the internet later on hinted at putting them in at the beginning. Apart from the daikon having grown a bit too soft, the taste of the stew turned out good. We made so much that we can take bento boxes for several days now!
P.S. From the comments of our Japanese colleagues we learned that at least the look of our nimono was the correct one. We also learned that the unknown root was a Chinese yam and is usually not meant for cooking, but it is grated and eaten immediately.