I first sampled this unusual dish at a traditional inn in Wajima, a city at the tip of the Noto Peninsula, which juts dramatically out into the Sea of Japan. Wajima is known for its exquisite lacquerware, and many of the plates used in serving the meal that day were lacquered wood.
But this grand bubbling pot was quite different. A huge sturdy ceramic bowl was brought to the table, filled with lightly grilled miniature sand dabs, slivers of daikon radish, bunches of bright green nanohana (a vegetable resembling broccoli rabe), and a scattering of brightly colored edible flowers in a miso-thickened broth. The chef proceeded to bury white-hot rocks in the broth, and immediately the stew began to bubble! Not only was the dish spectacular to behold, but the melding of flavors and textures was truly memorable.
© 1988 Elizabeth Andoh. All rights reserved.