Posted on Thursday, September 10, 2009 | 0 comments

My landlady brought over some nimono tonight after I got home from work. Actually, she was outside putting cans into the recycling bin, which led to a long and detailed (and therefore wasted, since my Japanese is still pretty limited) discussion about which days of the month were can collection days. I've gotten pretty good at saying 'Unh unh' (yes, yes) and nodding at the correct times, at least. Anyway, after this long talk, she suddenly said that she was cooking nimono and would bring me some when it was done. Sure enough, a half hour later, the doorbell rang. My landlady is a great cook in addition to being a great talker, so I was more than happy to receive her gift!
Nimono a combination of the word niru, meaning 'to boil', and mono, meaning 'thing' or 'things'. Japanese doesn't really have any plurals per se, so you usually have to infer if a word is singular or not via context. In this case, it's definitely plural and refers to the vegetables in this dish. Nimono usually varys according to household preference, so there are countless recipes for it. I managed to learn that tonight she'd made it with canned squid for flavoring, instead of using katsuo bushi, dried fish flakes, like she usually does. She'd removed the squid but ran back to her house and brought me some when I mentioned that I liked it. That was a mistake on my part---canned squid is definitely best used only for dashi (flavoring), as the remaining bit is rather bitter and full do I put this nicely...guts.
Once I'd picked out the squid, though, it tasted great. The other ingredients were: carrots; potatoes; konnyaku (a basically calorie-free spongy root-thing): gobo aka burdock root; daikon, Japanese radish, but if you need any in the US, just go to my mom's backyard (a long story involving bringing seeds through customs once, and now daikon has taken over Ridgeland Avenue as punishment for my sins); and lotus root, which is called renkon here. The pictures probably don't look the most appealing (especially the squid-included one), but it's really a great tasting vegetable dish. If I ever get around to making my own version, I'll be sure to post a recipe for it.