Crown Tournament 10/19/2019 - Suppon Nabe - カメのスープ - (Turtle Soup)

 Suppon Nabe - カメのスープ -  (Turtle Soup)

I know it's been awhile since I posted anything to the blog. My mind has been on other things. However, I am back in the groove and will be completing the posts for Crown Tournament in the next few weeks.  

My wonderful assistant, Miguel Mono De Hierro, whom you may remember made the Himono (grilled dried fish) volunteered to make this luscious Suppon Nabe, a simple and super rich turtle soup most often served in the fall for this event. This was my personal favorite dish of the entire event and I am so grateful that he made it. The third tray of Iemetsu's banquet consisted of two showy dishes and two soups. In lieu of the Carp Soup (Funa no Shiru) Suppon Nabe was served.  To continue the fall dishes in this course, ginger pork rolls stuffed with miso eggplant and braised pork belly with quail eggs served as the main dishes. 

Fowl served with its wings (hamori) - spectacle dish

Carp soup - Funa no shiru 鮒の汁 (Crucian Carp Broth) Use a miso above the grade of nakamiso, and it is good to add dashi. Wrap the funa (crucian carp) in wakame (Undaria pinnatifida seaweed) or kajime ( Ecklonia cava (species of brown alga)) and simmer it. When the umami flavor is light, add ground katsuo (bonito). However you do it, it is good to bring the miso to the start of a boil, like dashi. Boil it well and pour in salted sake. Sanshô powder is used as a suikuchi.

Turbo (sazae) Sazae 栄螺 (Horned turban, Turbo cornutus) - It is good to make with such things as the insides of yonaki (spindle tailed snail), mirukui(Mirugai clam), torigai (Cockle), and tairagi(Fan mussel). Scald, and dress with wasabi and miso vinegar

[Spiny lobster] served in a boat shape (funamori) - spectacle dish

“Cloud hermit” (unzen)soup - Unzen (or unzenkan) was a Chinese dish adopted in the Muromachi period, a gelatin made from grated yam, sugar, and scrambled egg, which was steamed to form a cloud shape when floating in soup.

"The carp in the second soup was the favorite fish of the Muromachi period before sea bream surpassed it in popularity in the Edo period, when it still had its fans. Carp, wrote Hayashi Razan, was both a delicacy (bibutsu) and an auspicious delicacy nicknamed a “gift to Confucius” since the Chinese scholar received one when his son was born. However, two other dishes, which also date to Muromachi-period culinary customs, were especially objects of attention (Rath, Banquets)." 

Here is the instructions in his own words on how to make this soup. Here is a link to a video that shows the entire process--warning--it might be a bit graphic as it does show how to kill and clean the turtle.

How to cook most expensive turtle stew.

Suppon Nabe

Two medium soft shelled turtle or 1 large soft shelled turtle 
1 litre sake 
1 litre water 
1-1/12 cupsLight japense soy sauce 
2-3 leeks ( well roasted)

The hardest steps involve processing the turtle whole.

If using a fresh turtle, kill the animal by removing it's head and inserting the knife at the base of the neck on the dorsal side of the animal and drain the blood into sake to prevent clotting. Allow the blood to drain for several minutes. Ten remove the plastron ( underside of the turtle from shell), intestines and other internal organs. Cut out esophagus and remove from neck. Remove leg quarters from shell/ plasteron and cut off nails from each foot.  You then remove the soft portion of shell from bone. Finally you rinse all meat pieces and remove excess blood

Next boil a large pot of water and dump this over the turtle chunks, shell and plasteron.  Then you peel off the skin from all the legs, head, shell, and plasteron.

In a large pot mix 1litre of sake and 1 litre of water to a boil. Add all the turtle pieces to stew and add urikasi ( light ) soy sauce. Skim excess foam from the top of the soup. Allow this to boil until the meat is soft (45 mins to 1 hour), add extra soy sauce and sake as needed to restore fluid levels and to taste.

Once the turtle meat is tender remove the large meat from the stock. While meat is still hot remove any bones ( be sure to get as many of the metatarsels and digit bones as possible, then add the meat back to broth and add slow roasted leeks . Simmer to allow leeks and broth to meld

The collagen in this soup is amazing and the different meats of the turtle (supposedly there are seven) add an odd textual component while still giving lots of flavor. I allowed mine to simmer for extra time before serving to reduce an odd aroma and let the leeks percolate in the broth and take off some of the gameiness of the turtle.

For more information you may want to read Eric Rath's "Banquets Against Boredom:Towards Understanding(Samurai) Cuisine in EarlyModern Japan."