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by Keiko Miki October 31, 2019 5 min read

Japan has four seasons, where we can enjoy each classic and characteristic dish. As you may know, one of the typical dishes in winter is a hot pot.

Hot pot is a common dish we enjoy at home as well as Japanese traditional restaurants. As the winter comes, every family has the opportunities to enjoy different kinds of hot pot. Thus, the hot pot is very close to the Japanese. 

A hot pot has tons of types including local dishes. Here you can see five simple recipes. Hope you enjoy Japanese classic winter dishes at home.

What is a hot pot?

A hot pot is classified in various types but in general,  an earthen pot is used to cook several vegetables, mushrooms, fish, meat and fried ingredients. Why is the hot pot so common at home? The key is simple recipes. Just cut and put ingredients into the pot and then cook them while broth is naturally made.

In addition, an earthen pot allows you to cook ingredients evenly, make better broth and also soften the ingredients. Moreover, as the pot holds warmth well, you can cook them with after heat.

These effects are brought by far-infrared rays of the earthen pot.

An earthen pot emits far-infrared rays by being heated like charcoal fire or ceramics. This can heat ingredients in the pot slowly and evenly. That is why the earthen pot is perfect for a hot pot. 

Ingredients for hot pot

Ingredients for hot pot

There are so many kinds of hot pots you can see in Japan. In exclusive restaurants, you can enjoy hot pot with soft-shelled turtles, conger eels or bear meat. More common ones are also popular like shabu-shabu, sukiyaki and chanko. Having said that, there are no specific rules for hot pots. You can choose any ingredients and types of broth.

Typical ingredients for hot pot include Chinese cabbage, mushrooms, tofu and leeks. Then add protein like fish or meat into the pot. This is it! One hot pot is already completed. You can also add crown daisy, mizuna, radish or edible wild plants as you like.

Ishikari hot pot recipe

Ishikari hot pot is a local dish in Hokkaido, which mainly uses salmon fillets. This features fresh salmon with miso and it is a unique hot pot in a cold region to warm the body up.

Ishikari hot pot recipe

Ingredients (for 2)

  • 2-4 slices of fresh salmon
  • 4-5 leaves Chinese cabbage
  • 4 shiitake mushrooms
  • 8 heads garland chrysanthemum
  •  A firm tofu
  • 800 ml water
  • 1 piece of dried kelp
  • (A) 2 tbsp cooking rice wine
  • (A) 2 tbsp mirin (sweet cooking rice wine)
  • 2 tbsp miso
  • 20 g butter
  • 100 ml milk

Method

  1. Fill the pot with water and soak the dried kelp for about an hour.
  2. Cut all the ingredients into bite-size and put them into the pot. Add (A) and put the lid on, then heat it up.
  3. Once all the ingredients are well cooked, open the lid, remove the kelp and add miso, butter and milk.

Tips

Please be careful not to cook kelp too much, otherwise the kelp will give out slimy texture and harsh taste. You can also add potatoes or other ingredients if you like.

Oden recipe

If you have ever visited Japan in winter, you might have seen oden, a traditional Japanese stew, is sold at convenience stores or izakaya. Oden is loved all over Japan, which is why we consider that as a national dish. However, if you try to cook authentic oden, it requires lots of effort for preparation than you expect.

Oden recipe

Ingredients (for 2)

  • *Daikon radish
  • *eggs
  • *konjac cakes
  • *paste products (boiled flat fish cakes, grilled chikuwa and fried fish cake)
  • *beef tendon
  • 1.5 L broth (Adjust the amount depending on the pot size)
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp mirin (sweet cooking rice wine)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

*Please adjust each amount as you like

Method

  1. Cut daikon radish into 3-4 cm slices. After removing the skin, chamfer them to get lit of angles. Make a cut in each one of them to cook easily. Then, boil them in rice water preparatorily.
  2. Boil eggs and peel off the shell beforehand.
  3. Cut beef tendon into bite-size and boil it preparatorily. Then, skewer it.
  4. Cut konjac cakes into smaller size, make a cut in and boil them preparatorily.
  5. Once broth is put into the pot, add seasonings and all the ingredients prepared, then simmer them.

Tips

If you stew them for long, it's better to boil paste products beforehand to remove the excess oil. This makes the hot pot taste elegant. Besides, try to find out your favorite ingredients like octopus, konjac noodle, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and chicken.

Japanese chowder recipe

Japanese chowder, Yosenabe, varies in each region providing different flavors and ingredients, so you can enjoy this hot pot in many ways. Of course, there are no rules for ingredients. Actually, any hot pots are called Yosenabe in case they are not considered as other specific hot pots like Ishikari hot pot, oden, sukiyaki or shabu-shabu. Enjoy Yosenabe with your favorite ingredients and the basic recipe I introduce here.

Japanese chowder recipe

Ingredients (for 2)

  • 150 g chicken thigh
  • Fish fillet or head as you like
  • 4-5 leaves Chinese cabbage
  • 8 heads garland chrysanthemum
  • A firm tofu
  • 4 shiitake mushrooms
  • 800 ml water
  • 1 piece of dried kelp
  • (A) 2 tbsp cooking rice wine
  • (A) 2 tbsp mirin (sweet cooking rice wine)
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Method

  1. Fill the pot with water and soak the dried kelp for about an hour.
  2. Cut all the ingredients into bite-size and put them into the pot. Add (A) and put the lid on, then heat it up.
  3. Once all the ingredients are well cooked, open the lid, remove the kelp and adjust the taste with soy sauce and salt.

Tips

Except chicken, you can also put pork, shellfish and shrimp. Other vegetables like leeks, bamboo shoots and wild vegetables are good to go with, too. Let's think outside the box and be creative to enjoy your own hot pot.

Other hot pots

Local hot pots are also seen throughout Japan; Dotenabe (miso-flavored oyster hot pot) in Hiroshima, Okkirikomi (noodle stew) in Gunma, Kamosuki (duck pot) in Shiga and Shishinabe (boar meat hot pot) in Ibaraki. Besides, we also have modern and creative hot pots made with soy milk, kimuchi, grated daikon radish, mizutaki (chicken and vegetables) and motsu (beef guts)... It's too numerous to list them all here! That tells us a hot pot is something you can enjoy freely.

Even if you can't get Japanese ingredients, local seasonal vegetables should be great ingredients for a delicious hot pot. In the season with cold wind, why don't you have a hot pot with your family and friends?

Keiko Miki
Keiko Miki



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