Delicious Hoto Nabe (Flat Noodles Miso Hot Pot) with kabocha squash, pork, napa cabbage, enoki mushrooms, and tofu. Also a tour to the Yamanashi Prefecture.
Hot pots and nabemono are especially good during the colder months. Food is usually cooked at the table on portable stoves or in electric pots. I like to serve them during the weekends when dinner is enjoyed at a more leisurely pace. So far, the hot pots I have shared are normally served with bowls of steamed rice.
Specific Hot Pots
There are also specific noodle hot pots and Hoto Nabe is one of them. This is a one pot dish of hand made flat noodles simmered in a miso based soup. Lots of vegetables like kabocha squash, napa cabbage, carrots, and taro are added to the pot. Hoto Nabe is a regional specialty of the Yamanashi area in Japan, home of the very well known 16th century daimyo, Takeda Shingen.
During one of my trips to Japan, I had the opportunity to travel through this mountainous region on my way to Komagane, in Nagano Prefecture. I got to eat those delicious Nashi pears and Aomori apples in Futaba. Unfortunately, during this trip I did not get to try this dish and so I decided to cook it at home based on Ro-Ri San’s description of the dish. I have to say it was delicious and I really enjoyed the dish even though I did not have the right kind of noodles.
Udon Noodles as a Substitute for Hoto Noodles
I used udon noodles as a substitute and cooked them in individual earthenware pots (donabe) and cast iron pots (tetsunabe) on the stove. You can also use a huge pot instead and serve the noodles in individual bowls. I chose to omit the carrots and taro as there was sufficient carbs with the udon and kabocha squash. Other ingredients that may be added include mushrooms and daikon.
A Visit to Yamanashi Prefecture with Hoto Nabe Lunch
Since I did not get to enjoy Hoto Nabe in person the last time, I made it a point to visit Yamanashi Prefecture this past April. While Ro-Ri San went to work at his Tokyo office, I joined a tour to Mt. Fuji Panorama Ropeway via Lake Kawaguchi with a Hoto Nabe lunch. The tour also included a visit to Shiba-sakura Festival and strawberry picking at a Yamanashi fruit garden. It was an all day trip and I was excited.
Lake Kawaguchiko and Mt Fuji
The tour started very early in the morning. Our first stop was Lake Kawaguchiko to take the cable car at the Mt. Fuji Panorama Ropeway a.k.a. the Mt. Kachi Kachi Ropeway. The cable car was packed and I was somewhere in the middle of the car and so could not take any pictures. I did manage to get a panoramic picture at the top as soon as I got off the cable car.
Unfortunately, it was a cloudy morning and Mt. Fuji was obscured behind the clouds. I was disappointed to have come all this way and not get a good view of the mountain. There was also rain in the forecast and I knew there would not be much to see at a planned stop at the Mt. Fuji 4th Station. The drive to the 4th station was indeed a washout! It was drizzling and cold. Nothing there to see.
I was glad to head back down for the Hoto Nabe lunch. Even though a few of us got detached from our group, we got down in time for lunch. The cable car was again packed!
Shiba-sakura Festival 2019
The Shiba-sakura Festival only runs for a limited time each year. For 2019 it was from April 13th to May 26th. This is a festival of flowers, mostly pink moss phlox giving a contrast of colors to Mt. Fuji and its surrounding areas. It is also a festival for the local vendors to showcase their seasonal fruits and products. I was delighted to find fresh hoto noodles and sakura ramen (which I have yet to share) here. It was all nicely sealed and packed and so I bought a pack of each. I declared everything at Customs and Immigration and was thankful that the noodles got through…woohoo!
As you can see, the noodles came with sachets of awase miso, which is an all purpose blended miso. You can buy awase miso or blend shiro (white) miso and aka (red) miso togeher on a 1:1 ratio for this Hoto Nabe recipe. I often prepare Miso Soup and so I usually have these two types of miso in my refrigerator.
Our final stop before heading back to Tokyo was at a strawberry farm. True to all things and places Japanese, this farm is as neat as can be. The paths between the rows of strawberries were all lined with weed blocking material which made it very pleasant to walk through. We were each given a small tray with some condensed milk (if desired) to dip the strawberries in and also to contain the strawberry stems and calyxes. I declined the condensed milk.
The Sweetest Strawberries
It was an all-you-can eat strawberry fest! There was no need for any kind of sweetener as these were the sweetest strawberries I have ever tasted. These strawberries were kind of longish in shape and are not the prettiest but they were really sweet. I don’t think I have ever eaten so many strawberries at one go.
That wrapped up my day tour to Mt. Fuji and Yamanashi Prefecture. Now, let’s get back to our delicious home cooked Hoto Nabe.
Hoto Nabe with Hoto Noodles
So, I finally get to cook Hoto Nabe using hoto noodles. The noodles I ate at Lake Kawaguchiko came with chicken (to cater to most tourists) and enoki mushrooms. I kept to my originally recipe with thinly sliced pork but added the enoki mushrooms. It was super delicious!
Tools Used in Making This Hoto Nabe
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- ½ kabocha squash (about 1 lb/450g)
- 1 lb hoto noodles or udon (450g)
- ½ lb pork (thinly sliced) (225g)
- 4 napa cabbage leaves
- 1 packet enoki mushrooms (3.5 oz/100g)
- 4 pieces abura-age (tofu pouches)
- 4 green onions (cut into 2-inch lengths)
- 6 cups water (1.4 liters)
- 1½ tsp dashi
- 1/3 cup awase miso (90g)
- Scoop out seeds from kabocha squash. Cut into 2-inch thick wedges. With a vegetable peeler, remove some but not all the skin. Cut wedges into ¼-inch slices.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add hoto and cook for 20 minutes. If you are using fresh udon, just cook 2 to 3 minutes. Drain.
- In a small pot of boiling water, blanch tofu pouches for 30 seconds to remove excess oil. Drain and squeeze out as much water as possible. Slice into thin strips.
- Pour water into a large pot. Bring it to a boil. Add dashi.
- Combine 1½ cups (360ml) stock from the pot and miso in a bowl. Whisk to dissolve miso. Set aside.
- Add kabocha squash and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
- Next add pork, napa cabbage, enoki mushrooms, and abura-age. Let it cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Finally add hoto (or udon) and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.
- Pour miso mixture back into pot. Stir to get it well mixed.
- Add green onions and dish into small bowls. Serve immediately.
NOTE: This post was originally published on February 17th, 2012. It was updated on July 9th, 2019 with new write up and pictures. There was a small change to the recipe.