Pork belly and greens hot pot
Total time: 30 minutes (plus 1 hour, 15 minutes for the dashi)
Servings: 4 to 6
Note: Adapted from "Japanese Hot Pots" by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat. Konbu (kelp for stock), dried bonito flakes, usukuchi soy sauce, negi (Japanese green onions) and the greens mizuna and shungiku are available at Japanese markets. The dashi can be made ahead of time and kept refrigerated for 3 days (or in the freezer for up to 2 months). To slice the meat yourself, freeze until it partially hardens (2 to 3 hours), then slice it thinly against the grain with a very sharp knife.
8 cups water, plus 2 tablespoons water, divided
2 (6-by-3-inch) pieces konbu
3 packed cups (1 1/2 ounces) bonito flakes
1. In a medium stockpot, combine 8 cups of water with the konbu and set the mixture aside to steep for 30 minutes. Place the stockpot over medium heat and bring it to a boil. Remove and discard the konbu, and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of water. Add the bonito and stir it once to combine. As soon as the liquid boils again, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove any scum that appears on the surface, as this can adversely affect the flavor.
2. Remove from the heat and set aside to steep for 15 minutes. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve or cheesecloth; don't squeeze the bonito flakes. Discard the bonito flakes. This should make 4 to 5 cups dashi.
Hot pot assembly
4 cups dashi
1/2 cup mirin
1/2 cup usukuchi ("light," not low-sodium) soy sauce
2 negi (Japanese green onions), sliced on an angle into 2-inch pieces
3/4 to 1 pound fresh pork belly, thinly sliced into 1/8 -inch thick strips (Japanese markets carry it pre-sliced, you can also ask your butcher)
8 cups stemmed spinach (from about 1/2 pound)
Scant 4 cups trimmed and cut mizuna (a Japanese mustard), trimmed and stems cut into 2-inch pieces