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Shabu Shabu: A Pot for Everything Delicious

Shabu Shabu: A Pot for Everything Delicious

Fragrant soup, sizzling meat, delicious sauces – hardly anyone can resist the temptation. What sets Shabu Shabu apart from other Japanese hot pot dishes, how to eat it correctly, and how can you make it yourself?

Warm Japanese fondue for the cold season?

Fondue is one of our most beloved dishes during the cold season. In Japan, it's also a favorite, but in its own way. It has to sizzle: that's where the name comes from. Shabu Shabu is Japanese onomatopoeia. That's how it sounds when thinly sliced meat is dipped into boiling broth.

Although it's excellent for cold winter evenings, Shabu Shabu was originally intended for summer in Japan. It was first served in Osaka in the 1950s. The restaurant Suehiro holds the status of the creator of the dish and its name. Suehiro experienced a "summer slump," with grilled meat (Yakiniku) facing low demand. Shabu Shabu was intended to provide a balance.

According to legend, a chef in the Japanese restaurant came up with the idea when he observed an employee washing a cloth – similar to meat being swirled in broth. With its origin in the 50s, Shabu Shabu is noticeably younger than its hot pot relative: Sukiyaki.

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Sukiyaki and shabu shabu - that's the difference

Nabemono, the hot pot dishes, originally come from China and trace their roots back to Shuan Yang Rou. In this dish, lamb is cooked in hot soup. While Sukiyaki has evolved into a sweet version with a dark sauce, hearty Shabu Shabu has remained true to its origins. Both dishes are prepared not so much in the kitchen but in a social gathering around the dining table. Thin slices of meat and vegetables are first dipped into the hot broth with chopsticks and then into tasty sauces.

Traditionally, beef is essential for Shabu Shabu. Particularly, Wagyu beef is highly sought after, as the fine slices almost melt in the pot. However, pork is also appreciated in Japanese cuisine for its neutral taste. Chicken is, of course, the lightest option.

Fish and seafood can also be enjoyed with Shabu Shabu. They are sliced even thinner than for sashimi. Since the taste significantly differs from the meat version, it's almost like a separate dish. There are also variations of the Shabu Shabu pot divided into separate sections, allowing you to try different types of broths. Vegetables such as cabbage, mushrooms, tofu, and even noodles complete the meal. In a Japanese restaurant specializing in Shabu Shabu, you have a wide selection of ingredients to cook in the hot broth.

Shabu Shabu also comes with two important sauces: Ponzu, mainly consisting of citrus juice and soy sauce, and Goma dare, a sesame sauce. While Goma dare pairs excellently with the meat, Ponzu is enjoyed with the vegetables.

Shabu shabu recipe: how to prepare it

Preparing a Japanese fondue at home: it's easier than you might think. Because here, you actually cook together with others. Only the preparation needs to be right - everything else happens on its own.

No. of persons4 personsNo. of persons
Total Timeca. 60 minutesTotal Time
Level of difficultyeasyLevel of difficulty
Dishmain mealDish
Caloriesca. 500kcal per portionCalories
Shabu Shabu Topf mit frischen Zutaten

The Sauces

First, let's tackle the sauces. Goma dare and Ponzu are available in well-stocked Asian markets, but homemade, as often is the case, naturally tastes better.

Homemade Ponzu Sauce:

List of ingredients
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp citrus juice of your choice (orange, lemon, lime or yuzu)
1 tbsp mirin (sweet sake)
1 1/2 tbsp dashi stock

Homemade Goma Dare:

List of ingredients
2 tbsp sesame seeds
4 tbsp dashi stock
2 tbsp sake
1 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp miso paste
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sugar
Kochende Miss Oryoki
Step 1

Lightly toast the sesame seeds in a pan (do not use oil!) and remove from the heat. Crush with a mortar. Add the dashi, sake, mirin, lemon juice, miso, sesame oil and sugar and mix well. The sauces can be chilled and served later in small bowls with the shabu shabu.

The broth

Now let's move on to the ingredients for Shabu Shabu (for 4 people). This and similar recipes are to be understood as suggestions because with this fondue, you can cook and enjoy anything you like in the broth.

List of ingredients
1 Konbu (Japanese seaweed leaf as a soup base)
500g beef fillet
200g mushrooms (enoki mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, button mushrooms or other varieties)
200g smoked tofu or white tofu
2 Carrots
8 leaves china cabbage
4 Pak Choi (small)
100-200g pre-cooked noodles (glass noodles, udon or shirataki) or rice
2 Spring onions
Daikon radish (fresh or pickled)
Kochende Miss Oryoki
Step 1

First, wrap the fillet of beef in cling film and place in the freezer for around 30 to 60 minutes so that it freezes slightly. This makes it easier to cut. For shabu shabu, the meat must then be cut into wafer-thin slices.

Step 2

Then prepare the broth. To do this, pour 1 liter of water over the konbu seaweed. A sturdy, large clay or cast iron pot is best for this, into which the ingredients are then immersed. The konbu seaweed must soak for about 30 minutes.

Step 3

Now it's time for the vegetables and other ingredients. Clean the mushrooms and cut the tofu into bite-sized cubes. Peel and slice the carrots. Cut the pak choi and Chinese cabbage into small, long pieces. Cook the noodles or rice according to the packet instructions. Chop the spring onions into rings and grate the radish if necessary.

Serve and enjoy shabu shabu properly

Step 1

Arrange all the ingredients on a plate or in a bowl. The spring onions and radish are mainly for garnishing later. The sauces are served in small bowls with each plate.

Step 2

The stock is then brought to the boil. Remove the konbu leaf just before boiling so that the water does not become slimy. Place the shabu-shabu pot in the middle of the table, preferably on a hotplate, so that the broth stays hot.

Step 3

Now the actual preparation begins at the dining table. Everyone grabs an ingredient and swirls it in the boiling water. In the restaurant, there are two different pairs of chopsticks for this: one for cooking and one for eating. This way you avoid touching the "shared" food with your own chopsticks, which is a no-go in public.

Step 4

A little pak choi, cabbage, carrots and spring onions also go straight into the broth and are then fished out as soon as they are cooked. They give the shabu shabu its characteristic aroma. From time to time, you can remove the foam in the cooking pot with a small ladle to preserve the flavor.

Step 5

The thinly sliced beef is cooked in the sauce for about 20-30 seconds. The cooked meat is then dipped in the sauce and eaten. Proceed in the same way with the remaining ingredients.

Tip: Once everything is finished, you can easily transform the broth into a delicious noodle soup or a flavorful rice broth. Enjoy your meal!

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