When winter comes, we usually miss warm dishes.
One of the standard winter menus in Japan is hot pot dishes.
There are so many hot pot dishes all over Japan, literally from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south. Especially, "Shabu Shabu" is one of the most popular hot pot dishes in Japan.
In this article, we introduce how to eat Shabu Shabu and how to use the Shabu Shabu hot pot. Please enjoy a Japanese hot pot dish at home.
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What is Shabu Shabu?
Shabu Shabu is a Japanese hot pot dish in which very thin bite-sized sliced pieces of meat are dipped in boiling water in a pot and served with Ponzu (a Japanese sauce made of soy sauce and citrus juices) or Gomadare (sesame sauce).
Shabu Shabu generally refers to sliced beef, but you can also use sliced pork, chicken, mutton/lamb, or sashimi (sliced raw fish) such as sea bream, yellowtail, crab, or octopus. Vegetable Shabu Shabu (no meat or fish) is enjoyable as well.
There are individual names for Shabu Shabu depending on the ingredients of the pot, such as "Buta Shabu" (Pork), "Tori Shabu" (Chicken), "Tai Shabu" (Sea Bream), "Buri Shabu" (Yellowtail), or "Kani Shabu" (Crab).
In addition, Shabu Shabu has many variations in local cuisines, such as Kinki (Idiot Fish) in Hokkaido, Wakame (Seaweed) in the Tohoku Region, and Hamo (Sea eel) in the Kansai Region.
The pot is filled with boiling water with a piece of Kombu (Kelp) for making Kombu dashi (broth), which is the most common way. There are also many ways to eat it, such as using the seasoning sauce to add a light taste to the ingredients or using hot water only.
In the next section, we introduce special pots for Shabu Shabu.
Features of Shabu Shabu hot pots: partition type and cylinder type
There are mainly two types of Shabu Shabu pots, the "partition" and the "cylinder" type.
In either Shabu Shabu pot, it is placed on the portable stove at the dining table and people dip the ingredients into boiled water or broth by themselves.
The pot on the right side of picture is a standard cylinder type of Shabu Shabu pot. The cylinder in the center of the pot keeps the soup at a constant temperature.
The soup in the pot is easy to cool down during Shabu Shabu because of dipping cold meat or vegetables. The central cylinder of the pot enables the expansion of the area of heat transfer and prevents the soup from getting cold.
Also, when you use a Donabe casserole for Shabu Shabu, the handles of the pot get hot because the flame goes up the outside of the pan. However, the pot with the cylinder allows heat to escape from the hole without the handles getting hot.
The left side of the picture is a partition type of Shabu Shabu pot in which you can enjoy two different soups of Shabu Shabu in a pot, for instance, one is kombu dashi, and the other is a mixture of soy milk and katsuo (bonito) dashi. Please prepare your favorite soup and appreciate the different flavors.
How to choose a Shabu Shabu hot pot
Choosing the appropriate Shabu Shabu pot based on the number of people using it and the amount of ingredients is important.
Here is how to choose your suitable Shabu Shabu pot.
Choosing by the size
If you often enjoy Shabu Shabu alone or as a couple, the 17-24 cm pot will be suitable for you.
A small pot has high thermal efficiency and makes easy-visible ingredients in the soup. Another nice feature is space-saving in storage.
For a family of 3-4 people, we recommend the 25-28 cm pot. Even if everyone dips the ingredients into the pot at once, you can enjoy Shabu Shabu comfortably without hitting your hands with each other.
When you enjoy Shabu Shabu with more than five people, a pot over 30 cm is appropriate. The large pot needs more room for storage, but it makes you feel like a party.
Choosing by the shape
When you want to enjoy the typical Shabu Shabu, please choose the pot with the cylinder. If you prefer two kinds of soup at once, the Shabu Shabu pot with the partition is recommended.
Please note the partition of the pot is not removable.
Choosing by materials
There are stainless steel and copper Shabu Shabu pots.
The stainless steel pot is rust-resistant and easy to maintain, while the copper one has high thermal conductivity and is aesthetically pleasing. Many authentic Shabu Shabu restaurants use the copper pot for a classy look. However, the stainless steel pot will be easy to use at home. So, please choose the pot according to your preference and purpose.
How to enjoy Shabu Shabu hot pot
Next, we explain how to enjoy Shabu Shabu hot pot.
1. Dip the meat in the soup
Fill a pot with water, add a piece of dried kombu, turn on the stove, and remove the kombu just before the water starts boiling. Now the kombu broth is ready to serve and all you have to do is just keep the temperature of the soup constant on the portable stove while dipping meats. It's a very simple way.
Please heat the meat thoroughly before eating because of the possibility of food poisoning bacteria. Also, you need to prepare a special tong for dipping raw meat in the soup and take care not to use your own chopsticks for it.
2. Enjoy other ingredients
Shabu Shabu is not only for meat but also for vegetables and mushrooms.
You can enjoy Shabu Shabu hot pot basically with any ingredients, for example, leafy vegetables (Chinese cabbage, lettuce, mizuna, spinach, garland chrysanthemum, and cabbage), root vegetables (Japanese white radish and carrot), mushrooms (shiitake, enoki, and maitake), Japanese leeks, and bean sprouts. Please try Shabu Shabu with your favorite ingredients.
3. Skim the foam from the surface of the soup
The scum of the ingredients gradually floats as the foam during Shabu Shabu. There is no health problem with eating them, but they have a harsh taste and smell, so please remove them frequently.
The skimmer can remove the foam quickly and easily.
How to care for Shabu Shabu pot
Please wash the Shabu Shabu hot pot after use with a sponge and kitchen detergents. Lukewarm water will remove the fat of meats in the pot easily.
Please do not scrub the pot with a hard brush, as it will not only damage it but also cause rust.
The pot should be well drained after washing and dry before storing.
Let's enjoy Shabu Shabu as a simple & easy Japanese hot pot dish!
A Shabu Shabu pot enables you to enjoy Shabu Shabu, which is one of the most famous Japanese hot pot dishes, anytime you want. The beautiful appearance of the pot will make your dining table very gorgeous. Why don’t you have Shabu Shabu hot pot with your family on special occasions such as family celebrations, seasonal events, or anniversaries?