This is my first attempt at Mille Feuille Nabe, a Japanese hot pot that is made with layers of Chinese cabbage and pork belly slices.
This hot pot is called mille feuille nabe as is is arranged with many layers of cabbage and pork slices which resembles the classic French pastry, mille feuille (also known as Napoleon). Mille feuille means ‘a thousand leaves’ so this dish is called 千层白菜猪肉锅 in Chinese which literately means “a thousand layers cabbage and pork hot pot”.
Besides Chinese cabbage, perilla leaves are also used to form the layers. Since perilla leaves are not readily available at our local wet markets (and they are rather expensive), I substitute with romaine lettuce. The hot pot looks so pretty with the layers of cabbage and the different types of mushrooms.
I made the stock from scratch but it can be replaced with store-bought vegetable or chicken stock. The layers are made by stacking layers of cabbage leaves, romaine lettuce and pork slices on top of one another. The stack is then cut into a few sections and packed in a circular manner in the pot. Most recipes will call for layering the bottom of the pot with bean sprouts, but I used the leftover cabbage leaves and mushrooms instead.
The vegetables reduced quite a fair bit after it is being cooked.
The dish is usually served with shabu shabu dipping sauce such as sesame sauce or ponzu sauce. However, we find that it is already very tasty without the sauce. It is a light and yet delicious one pot meal with all the flavours from the vegetables and mushrooms. Everyone enjoyed the huge hot pot and the four of us managed to finished it with only some leftover soup. I cooked udon with the leftover soup for my lunch the next day. Although the pot looks rather complicated with the layers of ingredients, it is actually very easy to prepare. This will be another one of our regular meals especially on a cool or rainy evening 🙂
Mille Feuille Nabe
1 head of Chinese cabbage (also called napa cabbage)
1 head of romaine lettuce
400g thinly sliced pork belly (for sabu sabu)
1 pack (100g) Bunashimeji mushrooms or white shimeji mushrooms
1 pack (200g) Enoki mushrooms
3 shiitake mushrooms (I used fresh shiitake mushrooms)
some carrot slices cut into flower shape (optional)
for the stock:
10 large dried anchovy (remove the guts)
3 stems of the shiitake mushrooms
1 small size yellow onion (remove skin and cut into half)
6 cups water
1 tablespoon soya sauce
1 teaspoon salt
- To make the stock: place ingredients (except soya sauce and salt) for the stock in a pot and bring it to a boil. Once it starts to boil, remove the kombu and discard. Reduce heat and leave to simmer for about 30mins. Season with soya sauce and salt. Strain the stock and leave aside.
- Wash and drain Chinese cabbage leaves, and romaine lettuce leaves, set aside.
- Wash and drain shiitake, bunashimeji and enoki mushrooms.
- To assemble the mille feuille stacks: Lay a cabbage leaf then lay a romaine lettuce leaf on top, followed by 3 slices of pork belly. Repeat with cabbage, romaine lettuce, pork belly for another 3 layers. Finally, top it with a cabbage leaf. There should be 4 layers of cabbage–romaine lettuce–pork belly, with the bottom and top most as cabbage leaves. (Note: for smaller romaine lettuce leaves, use 2 leaves for each layer instead of one.)
- Repeat the above to make a total of 3 stacks. (Note: for a small pot, 2 stacks should probably be enough).
- Cut the left over cabbage leaves and romaine lettuce into big chunks.
- Layer the bottom of a large pot (I used a 5 litre pot, 26cm in diameter) with the cabbage and romaine lettuce chunks, followed by the bunashimeji and enoki mushrooms. Reserve one bunch each of the bunashimeji and enoki mushrooms.
- Cut each of the mille feuille stack into 3 or 4 sections (about 5cm each section).
- Arrange the sections, cut-side up, starting from the edge of the pot working towards the centre. Fill the centre with the shiitake mushrooms and the bunch of reserved bunashimeji and enoki mushrooms. Top with sliced carrots (optional).
- Pour the stock into the pot. Cover and bring it to a boil. Remove cover and leave to simmer for about 10 minutes or until the ingredients are fully cooked. Serve with shabu shabu dipping sauce such as sesame sauce or ponzu sauce.
Note: depending on the size of the pot, the amount of ingredients especially the cabbage, romaine lettuce and pork slices may vary.