Shabu Shabu Gift

Oh winter cold, winter dark, winter comforts so dearly embraced: it’s when friendly time beside the fire and good food is most satisfying.

table cooktop for nabemonoA Japanese nabemono (hot pot) is a warm and convivial way of sharing and eating a meal. A pot of water or broth simmers in the center of the table, surrounded by plates of meat, fish, tofu, fruits, and vegetables. With chopsticks (or fondu forks) diners slide morsels of food into the simmering stock to cook, then lifts them out to a plate. There are usually small bowls of dipping sauces for each diner to enhance the flavor of the simply cooked food. Pickles or lightly vinegared vegetables and rice complete the meal.

I have not gotten around to buying a table-top heat source to present such an entertaining feast. Occasionally I’ve used a slow cooker, but it doesn’t really get and stay hot enough. I’ve cooked the individual components in the kitchen, then presented them arranged on platters on the table, but this method is best for summer meals when cold foods are appreciated.
Cold Beef Shabu-Shabu with Creamy Sesame Dressing


This Christmas, my sister and my daughter changed all that: they surprised me with an induction cooktop and prepared a lovely Christmas Eve shabu shabu!

shabu-shabuIn Japan a small bird says “pii pii”
a cat meows “nyaa nyaa” and purrs “goro goro”
a chicken clucks “ku-ku-ku-ku”
a dog barks “wan wan”
a frog groaks “kero kero”
a horse’s hoof beat is “paka paka”
and meat swooshed through simmering water says
“shabu shabu!”
This is a dish in which thin slices of meat (usually beef) are cooked in simmering water or broth by holding a slice with chopsticks. This is a meal usually cooked by the diners themselves at the table.
from my Buta Shabu post

vegetables prepared for shabu shabuBecause I did not assist with assembling the shabu shabu, I can provide only vague details—truly, this is not so much a recipe as an event beginning with a broth and prepared meat and vegetables.

The daughter had Japanese Cooking, A Simple Art written by Shizuo Tsuji on the counter, so I’ll give you a summary of his recipe as well as what they did.

shabu-beef_5621The sister and the daughter bought nicely marbled and thinly sliced beef, I’m guessing about 2 pounds to serve four generously. Tsai Grocery stocks it in their freezers–Japanese, Korean, and Chinese markets would be where to find it. Mr. Tsuji suggests using lamb as an alternative.

For the vegetables he lists: shiitake mushrooms, negi onions (the lovely large long green ones) or green onions, Chinese Cabbage, chrysanthemum leaves (shungiku—but spinach is similar), tofu, wheat gluten, and bamboo shoots.

induction-cook-top_0743They bought baby bok choy, enoki mushrooms, carrots, bamboo shoots, broccoli, and a small daikon radish. They cut the carrots, broccoli stems, and some of the daikon into flowers and stars. The remainder of the daikon was grated finely to garnish the plates and add fresh crunchiness.

For the simmering stock, they brought a large piece of kombu to a simmer in the water before we sat down to eat. We added some dashi powder for extra flavor.

Shabu shabu is usually served with two different dipping sauces: ponzu sauce (based on citrons or yuzo) and goma dare (sesame sauce). I was asked to provide both. The ponzu, I bought. The goma dare, I started and Mr. Tess finished. Mr. Tsuji’s recipe follows.

Goma Dare
Sesame Sauce
from Japanese Cooking, A Simple Art
written by Shizuo Tsuji
page 267
2 cups

  • 2 ½ ounces white sesame seeds (½ cup?)
  • 5½ Tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons mirin
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1-2 Tablespoons saké
  • 10 Tablespoons dashi

In a dry, heavy frying pan, toast the white sesame seeds over medium heat. You want them golden not burned! Watch and stir carefully. Golden can become black in seconds.
Transfer the sesame seed to a suribachi (Japanese grinding bowl) and grind them to a flakey paste.
Mix the remaining ingredients, except the dashi, and add the mixture a little at a time to the sesame seeds. Continue grinding as stirring with each addition. Use the dashi to thin the sauce so morsels of food can be efficiently dipped.
Best used fresh, but it will keep sealed and refrigerated for up to 3 days.


7 thoughts on “Shabu Shabu Gift

    • This induction tabletop unit was not very expensive, but it works really well. We’ve since had several makeshift hot pots featuring tofu and chicken thighs and this sort of meal is so easy to prepare. Fun to eat as well.

      You do need iron or magnetic stainless steel pots (with flat bottoms) in order for them to work with the thing though. Luckily one of my Le Creuset pots is still useable.

      Lots of fake “le creuset” are for sale in resale shops around here for cheap. I’d like one for oden which would be shallow and wide…

  1. Cold beef shabu shabu is delicious! Also, thanks for the heads up on Nom Nom in Philadelphia. We went there this last Saturday and loved it!

    • Hi Jean,
      Thank you for your comment. ≥^!^≤
      I have been away from my blog, and maybe from my life while obsessed with work for some too many months.

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