This napa cabbage “mille-feuille” is not only beautiful in its appearance but also amazingly flavorful with only four main ingredients!
Mille-feuille, also known as the Napolen, is a French desert with layers of puff pastry and cream. In Japan, mille-feuille could in general, mean three things: regular mille-feuille, mille-feuille cake which is a layered cake with crepe and cream and this mille-feuille nabe (hot pot).
Mille-feuille nabe is usually made with napa cabbage and thinly sliced pork, but to make it vegan, I’m using fried tofu pouch (abura-age or 油揚げ). Abura-age is like the bacon of the vegan world (to me;). It just makes everything taste so good!!
To prep the abura-age, put it on a colander and pour boiling water over it. Flip and do the same on the other side. This removes excess oil that’s on the abura-age. Cut the abura-age in half (or third depending on how big the abura-age is).
Thinly slice long onion (naganegi or 長ねぎ) and peel and julienne ginger. If you can’t find long onion, you can use leek. Then we are ready to layer them into mille-feuille!
Lift up one or two leaves of napa cabbage and put an abura-age piece, some ginger and long onion. Lift up some more leaves and do the same, creating layers.
After putting all the layers inside, cut the napa cabbage in about 4cm length, perpendicular to the layers.
Pack the pot with layered pieces of napa cabbage.
Top it with shio-koji (or salt). If you are using Staub like I am, then close the lid, put it on medium heat until the inside starts to simmer, then cook on low heat for about 30 min. If you are using a regular pot, put 1/4 cup of cooking wine (sake) or water and cook on low heat for about 30 min (watch carefully since if you overcook, all the liquid will evaporate and burn the bottom!).
I think next time I make it, I will put shio-koji in layers instead of topping it at at the end as that would ensure that the salt is spread evenly.
Napa cabbage releases flavorful juice which mixes with the flavors from ginger and long onion. There is really no need to add any dashi or broth because the natural flavors of the vegetables create an amazing taste. I love the simplicity of this dish, but you could also explore different flavors, adding some soy sauce, chili or even Indian or Middle Eastern spices:)