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Traditional Japanese Hot Pot Dishes to Enjoy in Winter

Hot pot dish is one of the most popular Japanese dishes to enjoy in winter. Nabe is not only a traditional and popular dish, but it has also become so common in Japanese life that even the most prestigious restaurants serve it.

However, there are many variations of nabe dishes, with more than 100 varieties. Not only do they vary in seasoning and ingredients, but also in the way they are prepared.

In this issue, we introduce some of the typical hot pot dishes.

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What is Nabe-ryori (Hot pot dish)?

Hot pot cooking is a dish in which the ingredients and broth are simmered in an earthenware pot, and the soup is enjoyed with the ingredients and the broth from the ingredients, and after the ingredients are finished, rice, Chinese noodles, udon noodles, or somen noodles are added.

Nabe-ryori is a dish in which the ingredients and broth are simmered in an earthenware pot and enjoyed in a broth that has been thoroughly infused with the ingredients and their broth, and after the ingredients are finished, rice, Chinese noodles, udon noodles, or somen noodles are added, commonly referred to as "Nabe-ryori."

A heat source such as a cassette stove is placed on the dining table, and a pot is placed on top of the stove to cook the food. This style of cooking is a staple of Japanese home cooking in winter, as it naturally encourages conversation and enjoyment. Hot pot dishes for Kaiseki (banquet dishes) are sometimes served in a small pot for one person, and each person enjoys his or her own hot pot dish.

Hot pot dish is not divided into portions after cooking is complete; instead, each person usually takes only what he or she needs to eat each time, transferring it to a bowl or other container and dipping it in a sauce such as Ponzu (Japanese sauce made of soy sauce and citrus juice) or sesame sauce.

Japanese Regional Cuisine Using Hot Pot

There are many local Hot pot cooking dishes that have developed uniquely in different parts of Japan.

In addition to major hot pot dishes such as "Yosenabe," in which fish, meat, and vegetables are stuffed into a pot and simmered, and "Sukiyaki," in which beef is grilled using a sauce made from split soy sauce, sake, and sugar, there are many other local hot pot dishes that have developed independently in various regions of Japan.

Ishikari-nabe using salmon, a specialty of Hokkaido alone, Ohau, a traditional hot pot dish of the indigenous Ainu people of Hokkaido, and Nanko-nabe, in which horse meat is stewed in miso paste, are examples.

Hot pot dish varies all over Japan, such as doze-nabe made with loach and burdock root in Tokyo, or Marunabe made with suppon in Kyoto.

Types of Hot Pot Dishes 

Among the many hot pot dishes, here are some of the most widely popular and typical ones.


This is a pot in which seafood, vegetables, and meat of your choice are placed in a pot, water is added, and the pot is simmered.

There is no specific recipe for this nabe, in which seafood, vegetables, meat, and other ingredients of your choice are placed in a pot and simmered with water. It can be seasoned with salt, soy sauce, miso, etc. There is also a style in which the ingredients are simmered without seasoning and the broth is made from the ingredients, and the ingredients are dipped in ponzu and enjoyed.

Common ingredients include fish, shellfish, shrimp, crab, and other seafood. Meat, such as chicken, beef, and pork. Leafy vegetables such as Chinese cabbage, potherb mustard, and garland chrysanthemum. Mushrooms such as shimeji mushrooms and enoki mushrooms. This flexible style of nabe allows you to use whatever ingredients you like.


Sukiyaki is usually made with ingredients such as beef, green onions, grilled tofu, shirataki mushrooms, and shiitake mushrooms.

It is a slightly rich hot pot dish often served on special occasions such as New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

High-grade, high-quality beef is preferred for Sukiyaki, and other ingredients such as leeks, grilled tofu, shirataki and shiitake mushrooms are usually added together. Chinese cabbage and garland chrysanthemum are sometimes added.

It is also characterized by being simmered in wari-shita, which is made by boiling soy sauce, sake, sugar, mirin, and kelp broth, and is a popular way to eat the ingredients while dipping them in the beaten egg.


It is a simple nabe dish in which thinly sliced beef or pork is dipped into boiling kelp broth and served with ponzu (Japanese sauce made from kelp) or sesame sauce.

It is a simple nabe dish in which thinly sliced beef or pork is dipped into kombu dashi (kelp broth) that has been boiled in a pot and dipped into ponzu or sesame sauce. The nabe is sometimes necessary to remove the scum from the meat, as it accumulates in the pot. Hot pot dish is a way to enjoy the pure flavor of the meat.

Similar styles of Shabu-shabu include Tai-shabu with sea bream and Kani-shabu with crab.

How to Enjoy Hot Pot Dishes

Hot pot cooking is fun with a variety of ingredients, soups, and styles.

Hot pot dish is enjoyable for its variety of ingredients, soups, and styles, but this is not the only thing to enjoy about hot pot dishesc. After eating the ingredients, the so-called "nabe-no-shime" is another enjoyment. Another characteristic of hot pot dish is that the flavor varies greatly depending on the variation of dipping sauces.

Enjoy the ingredients and soup

The ingredients used in Hot pot cooking vary. Some of the more unusual examples include doze-nabe, which uses loach, kimchi nabe, which is based on Korean-style kimchi flavor, and gyoza dumplings nabe, in which gyoza (Chinese dumplings) have been added in recent years.

The combination of ingredients is important in nabe, but the charm of nabe is that you can enjoy an almost infinite number of combinations according to your taste. It is nice to be able to freely and easily create your own original nabe with the ingredients of your choice.

There is also a wide variety of soups used, including mizutaki, which is simply cooked from water, seasonings such as salt, soy sauce, and miso as the flavor base, soy milk, and dashi broth.

Enjoy the dipping sauce

Hot pot cooking is often served by dipping ingredients taken out of the pot into dipping sauce. The taste of the dipping sauce varies depending on the flavor of the ingredients, making nabe dishes a profound and enjoyable experience.

There are many dipping sauces such as ponzu, sesame sauce, men-tsuyu, soy sauce-based Chinese sauce, miso sauce, etc., as well as condiments such as shiso leaves, myoga, wasabi, naganegi (Japanese leek), hawk's claw and shichimi (seven spice flavors).

Enjoy the shime

Hot pot dish does not end when the ingredients are finished. The remaining soup has deep broth from the ingredients. The soup, which is full of umami from the ingredients, can be enjoyed by adding rice and beaten eggs to make Zosui, or by adding Chinese noodles, udon noodles, somen noodles, etc. In general, these dishes are called "nabe no shime" which is the final dish in a pot.

Enjoy Winter with Japanese Hot pot Dishes!

Traditional Hot pot dishes have been handed down from generation to generation in Japan, from east to west, from north to south, and from east to west.

With just one earthenware pot, you can enjoy easily a wide variety of hot pot dishes at any time. This winter, why don't you spend a happy time with your family over hot pot dish that warms your body?

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