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"Things in a pot" is what the Japanese call it.

"Things in a pot' is what the Japanese call it

Everyday foods look exotic in this one-pot meal, because you cut and present them in the Japanese fashion. But the procedure presents no difficulties, and, best of all, your guests cook their own dinner.

In Japan, this style of one-pot cooking is called nabemono--"things in a pot.' Gathered around a pot of simmering broth, guests select the foods they want and immerse a portion at a time in the broth. Some foods only need to be warmed; others take a minute or two to cook. Then you fish out your food (territorial debates occasionally may occur) and dip it into a sauce before eating. When appetites are sated, guests sip the broth, which gains flavor as it cooks.

You may want to accompany the hot pot with rice and Oriental pickled vegetables. For a beverage, consider tea or sake (hot or iced), or cold beer. Ice cream and ginger-flavored cookies go well as dessert.

To set each table for 4 to 6, you need a tabletop heating unit. It can be an electric wok or deep electric frying pan (it should hold at least 5 quarts), an electric hot plate, or a butane-fueled tabletop burner. With an independent heat source, you also need a table-presentable pan.

For each person, have a plate, a small cup for sauce and broth, a beverage cup (regular or Oriental teacup), and a pair of chopsticks or a fondue fork. Provide individual wire or perforated skimmers (available in Asian markets) or one for all to share. You also need a soup ladle.

Chicken and Vegetable One-Pot Meal

1 1/2 to 2 pounds boned and skinned chicken breasts

1 1/2 to 2 pounds mustard greens, washed, coarse stems removed, and leaves chilled

Mushroom bundles (directions follow) or 1/2 pound small (about 1-in. size) regular mushrooms, stems trimmed

Carrot bundles (directions follow)

Spinach rolls (directions follow)

3 quarts regular-strength chicken broth

Peanut sauce (recipe follows)

1/2 cup finely chopped green onion, white part only

2 limes, each cut into 4 wedges

1 tablespoon crushed dried hot red chilies

Cut chicken into 1- by 2-inch strips no thicker than 1 inch. Arrange individually on a large tray (or 2 small ones) the chicken, mustard greens, mushroom bundles, carrot bundles, and spinach rolls. Serve, or cover and chill as long as overnight. (If using regular mushrooms, wash and add to platter just before serving.)

Place a 5- to 6-quart pan with a heat source (see preceding directions for setting the table) in the center of a table within easy reach of all. In the kitchen, bring broth to boiling. Add to pan and adjust heat to keep broth simmering. Place the tray of foods alongside. Invite guests to add foods, a portion at a time, to the simmering broth. Lift out vegetables when hot, about 1 minute. Lift out chicken when it turns white and is firm when pressed, about 2 minutes.

Flavor individual servings of peanut sauce to taste with onion, lime juice, and chilies. Dip vegetables and chicken into sauce to eat. When guests have eaten all they want, turn off heat under broth. Ladle hot broth into sauce cups, add peanut sauce to taste, and sip broth. Serves 4 to 6.

Mushroom bundles. Divide 2 bags (3 1/2 oz. each) enoki mushrooms into 6 equal portions, laying mushrooms parallel.

Cut 6 fresh green stems (tops) from about 2 green onions; reserve white part to chop (see preceding recipe). Immerse stems until limp in boiling water, about 30 seconds; drain and let cool. Tie each portion of mushrooms with an onion stem. Cut off and discard brown ends of mushrooms.

Carrot bundles. Peel and trim ends off 2 medium-size carrots. Cut each carrot crosswise into thirds; cut each third into thin sticks. Divide into 12 equal portions and lay sticks parallel. Cut 12 fresh green stems (tops) from about 4 green onions; reserve white part to chop (see preceding recipe). Immerse stems in boiling water until limp, about 30 seconds; drain and let cool. Tie each portion of carrots with an onion stem.

Spinach rolls. Wash and discard stems from 2 pounds spinach; set leaves aside.

In a 5- to 6-quart pan, bring about 3 inches water to boiling. Cut large outer napa cabbage leaves, 9 to 10 inches each, free at base (save remaining head for other uses). Immerse leaves in boiling water until limp, about 2 minutes. Lift cabbage from water; drain, lay flat, and pat dry. Make a V-shape cut to trim thick part of rib from center of each leaf.

Add spinach to boiling water and cook until limp, about 2 minutes; drain. Let cool; firmly squeeze out moisture.

On a dish towel, lay 2 cabbage leaves side by side (stems in opposite directions), with edges overlapping several inches. Lay half the spinach in an even row along outer edge of one cabbage leaf. Form a compact roll by lifting the cloth with one hand (from the spinach side, as shown at left); smooth roll with the other hand. Make the roll tight so it will hold its shape when heated in broth. Form another roll with remaining cabbage and spinach. Cut rolls crosswise into 1 1/2-inch slices.

Peanut sauce. Smoothly blend 2/3 cup cream-style peanut butter, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 4 teaspoons distilled white vinegar, and 2 teaspoons sugar. Slowly whisk in 1 cup regular-strength chicken broth. Serve sauce in a pitcher.

Photo: Roll cabbage snugly around spinach. Lift cloth to guide roll as you form it

Photo: Simmering broth heats bundles of carrot sticks and enoki mushrooms tied with green onion stems, rolls of spinach and napa cabbage, and mustard greens. Heavier chunks of chicken cook beneath. Lift portions out with wire skimmer or chopsticks to drain

Photo: Each guest selects Japanese-style tidbits from platter to cook at the table

Photo: Dip cooked foods, by the biteful, into peanut sauce (left). At end of the meal (above), ladle cooking broth into sauce bowl. Season with peanut sauce, green onion, lime, chili, then sip
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes recipes
Date:Oct 1, 1984
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