Winter Crab: Kani Miso, Kani Nabe, Kani Zosui

Winter Crab: Kani Miso, Kani Nabe, Kani Zosui かにみそ かに鍋 かに雑炊

Winter Crab: Kani Miso, Kani Nabe, Kani Zosui かにみそ かに鍋 かに雑炊
In Japan winter is the season for crab and the best, fresh sake. We were given two beautiful crabs from the Sea of Japan and after doing kani nabe I wanted to cook the kani miso in the shell with sake over an open flame, so I bought some fresh, unfiltered ginjoshu sake from the north of Japan. With the leftover broth and bits of crab meat and vegetables we made kani zosui, a rice soup. This all makes for a wonderful dinner on a mid-winter night!

Mottainai: No Waste in Japanese Culture

One thing I would like to show in Japanese culture, through the lens of food, is ‘mottainai‘, or not wasting anything. You might have heard a bit about mottainai recently in relation to environmental conservation. With device and invention even the kani miso, or crab guts, which don’t amount to much are enjoyed. (The ‘miso‘ in kani miso is actually a reference to the brain of the crab, rather than miso paste/soup. In reality, the brain only makes up a fraction of the kani miso.) The raw kani miso, difficult to remove from the shell with an eating utensil, is just cooked with sake right in the shell over an open flame. In the end, it all comes out. It is fun, efficient and tasty!

There are at least two dishes in Japanese cuisine that employ this strategy; one is sake warmed in the crab shell and drunk and the second is the miso well cooked in the shell often with some broth and sake. Our rendition here is sort of a combination of both; too much sake to be proper kani miso korayaki and cooked too long to be proper kani miso korazake.

These crabs were another itadakimono, or gift humbly received which are very common in Japanese culture, especially gifts of food.

Kani Miso Korayaki
Winter Crab: Kani Miso, Kani Nabe, Kani Zosui かにみそ かに鍋 かに雑炊
Crab ‘miso‘ cooked in the shell with plenty of sake over an open flame. We cooked it for about 2 minutes. In a nice restaurant this would be done over a mini charcoal hibachi right at your table.

Crab Dinner, Japanese Style

Kani Nabe かに鍋: Crab hotpot. (Sorry, no pictures.) We slowly simmered kombu and an assortment of winter veggies to make a nice, light broth then added the crab. Cooking the crab takes about 3 minutes. We squeezed fresh yuzu juice on the crab meat, however just plain crab meat was very sweet. I much prefer yuzu on crab to lemon I realized, because the taste is more complex and mellow. (However I did long for butter!)

Kani Miso かにみそ: We used the body and miso of one crab for korayaki 甲羅焼き- korazake 甲羅酒, cooked over an open flame as shown below. We scooped it out with a spoon and ate it like ice cream, one scoop plain and the second with just a squeeze of yuzu. The flavor of kani miso, … we are trying to describe. It tastes like crab, the texture is often creamy, and it has a taste that is distinctly ’kani miso’, which I am at a loss to describe. Part of the kani miso is eggs, so it has a bit of the Shanghai crab taste, if you have had that. That is feeble, I know. I guess I can only say that it is indeed a treat, and if you like crab, you will probably like kani miso. By the way, many sushi restaurants offer kani miso sushi, which is usually quite good. It is just the crab internals in a miso-like paste, usually not cooked like this though.

Kani Zosui かに雑炊: Zosui is a wonderful dish in Japan, the taste and texture is a bit like risotto. After a nabe, after the fish, chicken, veggies, etc have been finished, what remains is the very best broth as it has the taste of everything that went into the nabe in it. Japanese wouldn’t just let this go to waste. Rice — or udon can be added to the nabe and cooked in the broth as the final course of the meal. Egg is often added too, which we did. This mixture is cooked in the nabe for a few minutes until most of the broth has been absorbed. Then eggs can be added and just stirred a bit and removed to a bowl while the egg is still a bit runny.

We used the kani miso from one of the crabs to add additional flavor to the zosui. Though the preparation method is quite different, as is the texture of the rice, zosui is really is quite similar to risotto. Just imagine crab and egg with vegetable broth.

Nabe: A Tasty and Easy to Eat Meal for Travelers in Japan
Even if you are not really into Japanese food, and not an extreme eater, you would probably have no trouble with these dishes. Nabe is always a good bet for anyone that doesn’t want to get too adventurous with their meals when they visit Japan. In nabe cuisine, everything is well cooked and the ingredients are all things that we often eat in Western food (vegetables, fish, chicken, etc).

Kani Miso Korayaki Cooking: Crab ‘Miso’ Cooked in the Shell with Sake
Winter Crab: Kani Miso, Kani Nabe, Kani Zosui かにみそ かに鍋 かに雑炊

Kani Miso Korayaki Cooking: Crab ‘Miso’ Cooked in the Shell with Sake
Winter Crab: Kani Miso, Kani Nabe, Kani Zosui かにみそ かに鍋 かに雑炊

Kani Miso Korayaki Cooking: Crab ‘Miso’ Cooked in the Shell with Sake
Winter Crab: Kani Miso, Kani Nabe, Kani Zosui かにみそ かに鍋 かに雑炊

Kani Miso Korayaki Served: Crab ‘Miso’ Cooked in the Shell with Sake
Winter Crab: Kani Miso, Kani Nabe, Kani Zosui かにみそ かに鍋 かに雑炊

IKani Zosui, Kani Miso Korayaki, Tsukemono and Yuzu
Winter Crab: Kani Miso, Kani Nabe, Kani Zosui かにみそ かに鍋 かに雑炊

Kani Zosui: Crab Rice Soup
Winter Crab: Kani Miso, Kani Nabe, Kani Zosui かにみそ かに鍋 かに雑炊

Kani Zosui: Crab Rice Soup – detail
Winter Crab: Kani Miso, Kani Nabe, Kani Zosui かにみそ かに鍋 かに雑炊

The Sake: Muroka Ginjoshu from Kamonishiki Brewery in Niigata

This sake is muroka (unfiltered) ginjoshu (high quality) okedashi (from a wooden vat) and shiboritate (just pressed) from a brewery in Niigata, a region that produces Japan’s best rice and some fine sake. This sake was pretty dreadful. It lacked the fresh, fruitiness of muroka shiboritate, I could taste no wood though the label says that it comes from a wooden vat. What I could taste was the sickening and lingering taste of jozo alcohol (distilled alcohol) that is added to cheap sake. If you have had sake that you didn’t like, jozo alcohol is likely the culprit.

The milling rate of this ginjoshu is 60%. At 980 yen for a 720ml bottle, it is not particularly expensive, but is rather price for ryorishu, or cooking sake, which I ended up using it for. This sake was nicely packaged and in the refrigerated section at the liquor store. It ought to be a whole lot better, I thought.

Muroka Ginjoshu Sake – package
Winter Crab: Kani Miso, Kani Nabe, Kani Zosui かにみそ かに鍋 かに雑炊
Funky package, crappy sake!

Muroka Ginjoshu Sake
Winter Crab: Kani Miso, Kani Nabe, Kani Zosui かにみそ かに鍋 かに雑炊
Even serving this sake in a nice glass couldn’t improve it!

Links

The Sake: Kamonishiki website (Japanese language)

加茂錦酒造
新潟県加茂市仲町2-6
tel/fax 0256-52-0070

6 Responses to “Winter Crab: Kani Miso, Kani Nabe, Kani Zosui”

  1. diva says:

    this is cool!! sugoi ne! my dad would love this, especially cooking the crab shell over a fire.

  2. Mmmmm looks so good! We went to a kani nabe place in Shinjuku earlier this month when we were in Tokyo. I made a non-traditional nabe the other day using miso and tahini (which really just grated goma).

  3. maryann says:

    There is no wasting in Italian cooking either. That’s how it should be, yes? :)

  4. Nate says:

    Back home in Hawaii we’d do something similar with Dungeness crab. Put the crab(s) on a hibachi, legs down first anf cook. After a while turn over to it’s back. Then after another few minutes, remove the crab body and legs leaving the shell on the hibachi, adding some sake. We’d eat the legs, then fight over the miso and sake. Best done on a picnic where there’s no need to worry about the messiness.

  5. Peko-P says:

    Oh, hi everyone. ‘Sorry for late.’ (as some say in Japan)

    hi diva, Long time no comment. Yes, cooking over directly on the flame is quite theatrical and if you were a pyromaniac in your childhood and a fooodie in adulthood, this dish kicks!

    Hello Marc, K, I am coming over to check out your nabe with tahini in a sec…

    Hello maryann and welcome to KyotoFoodie, I hadn’t realized that, but after I read your comment I thought that probably most ‘old world’ cultures we very no waste oriented, it was a matter of survival.

    Hello Nate, Kani miso/sake — in Hawaii, sounds like heaven!

  6. Kuzan Peter says:

    Hi,
    I’ve been enjoying your site. I try to get to Kyoto a couple of times a year. I’m wondering if you have a favorite crab restaurant in Kyoto. I would be grateful for your advice.
    Best regards.

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