I’m not sure how it happened, but after twenty-seven years of living near San Francisco I’ve turned into a confirmed Japanophile. I can’t go more than a week without craving sushi or some other Japanese goodie like Pocky; and for me, a hot bowl of miso is the ultimate comfort food.
So a recent dinner invitation from our friend Anthony and his lovely Japanese wife Akane had me excitedly bouncing around for days.
We had gone out to a shabu shabu restaurant earlier in the year and talked about topping that experience with a home style meal. Their purchase of an electric nabe pot clinched the deal…and they put together an amazing stew featuring a great selection of fresg veggies (shitake mushrooms anyone?) along with tofu, noodles, chicken, and ginger seasoned turkey meatballs. Akane had all the ingredients prepared by the time we arrived, including adding a seasoned broth to the nabe pot.
Quick nabe broth recipe… 2 quarts dashi, 1/2 cup soy sauce, and several tablespoons mirin rice wine. You can also add edible kelp such as kombu to taste.
When the nabe pot slowly emptied Akane deftly added a some raw whisked eggs, some precooked rice, a bit of crushed nori, and voila…we had a second entirely different savory dish!
Nabemono style meals are traditionally served during the Winter time, and we found out why as the windows quickly began to steam up. Shabu shabu and other one-pot Japanese meals like sukiyaki are typically cooked on the table with a portable gas burner, and even with an electric pot the boiling broth can heat up a room in no time. It’s a great way to share dinner with friends as it’s actually quite simply (the host doesn’t have to spend any time sweating over a hot stove) and often becomes the entertainment as guests can eat right from the pot with their chopsticks.
Here are some more shabu shabu style recipes…Blogger Tea And Cookies shares her “How to survive a Japanese Winter” recipes for basic vegetable nabe, and ginger chicken balls. I also found Chanko Nabe wich is a special hearty stew eaten by sumo wrestlers, and here’s a recipe for Beef Shabu Shabu.
To cook nabe at home you’ll need a portable butane stove or hot plate, with a ceramic casserole dish or cast iron nabe pot (or an electric grill pot). These are fairly affordable and easy to find in any Asian shopping district at the restaurant supply shops. Then just pair your favorite vegetables with some thin sliced meats and provide each guest with their own bowl of dipping sauce like ponzu. You can also serve rice, tofu, and noodles (glass noodles are perfect), then enjoy!
I can’t wait for our next nabe meal so I can try peppered tuna and crab legs…mmmmm.