Tai Kabura (Sea Bream and Turnip Hot Pot)
The recipe for this elegant fish soup was inspired by the version served at Kitcho, the legendary Kyoto restaurant. The soup’s deeply flavored broth, called dashi, gets its boost of umami flavor from kombu seaweed (a type of kelp) and dried bonito flakes, two staples of the Japanese pantry.
- 2 oz. kombu, cleaned with a wet paper towel
- 1⁄2 oz. dried bonito flakes
- 1 whole sea bream, red snapper, or black sea bass (about 1 1⁄2 lbs.), cleaned
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1⁄2 cup plus 2 tbsp. sake
- 1 tbsp. mirin
- 14 oz. turnips, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
- 1 tbsp. light soy sauce
- 2 cups cooked rice (optional)
- Combine kombu and 8 cups water in a 4-qt. pot and let sit for 30 minutes. Bring to a boil; using tongs, remove and discard kombu. Add bonito flakes and reduce heat to medium-low; simmer for 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let steep for 15 minutes. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a small oval pot or 3-qt. high-sided skillet. Strain stock, discarding bonito flakes; set aside.
- Using a knife, score fish 1⁄4″ deep, making one lengthwise cut down the middle of the fish from head to tail and two crosswise cuts spaced 2″ apart. Repeat on other side and transfer to a bowl. Season cavity and skin with salt and pour 1⁄2 cup sake over fish. Refrigerate, turning fish occasionally, for 20 minutes.
- Heat the reserved stock over medium-high heat. Stir in the remaining sake and the mirin. Add turnips and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer turnips to a bowl. Drain fish, add to the pot, and simmer, skimming off any foam from surface and continually spooning broth over fish, until fish is cooked through, about 8 minutes. Nestle the reserved turnips in pot and season soup with soy sauce; let cook 2 more minutes. Serve soup directly from the pot with a side of rice, if you like.