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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
*Please adjust each amount as you like
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, 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.
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.
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?