Every summer when all of us are in town, we head over to my mom’s house for a Shabu Shabu feast. It’s become sort of a family tradition. This year, Kevin and I volunteered to host the meal at our house. Shabu Shabu or Hot Pot is so simple to make. All you need is a good broth and the rest, you cook at the table as you eat. If you haven’t had hot pot before you are missing out. It’s kind of like Korean BBQ in that you cook it at the dinner table. But instead of a grill, you cook your food in a bubbling boiling stock. You place raw ingredients like meat, fish, shrimp, vegetables into the broth and once they’re cooked you can take it out, dip it in sauce and eat right away.
My mom makes a killer broth. She cooks it for hours on her stove the night before and it’s just so clean and delicious. Unfortunately, my mom hasn’t taught me her incredible broth recipe…….yet! She’s going to have to teach it to me one day, right?! 😉
WAIT!! DON’T GO JUST YET! I might not have her amazing recipe, but I still have a pretty good broth I’d like to share with you. It’s one that I use when it’s just us two making Shabu Shabu at home. This stock is used as a base for many Japanese dishes. I promise you’ll like it!
I take a sheet of dried Kombu kelp and soak it in about 8 cups of water for 30 mins. After 30 mins, I transfer the Kombu kelp and water into a large stock pot with 1 pack of dried bonito flakes. Cook the broth for about half an hour. Take out the Kombu kelp and strain the broth. You’re ready to serve Shabu Shabu. The best thing about this method of cooking is that the meat and vegetables you cook in the stock actually help flavor it for when you add in your noodles or rice. YUMMY!
We usually prepare chrysanthemum leaves, watercress, napa cabbage, bok choy, shitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, julienne carrots, thinly sliced beef, shrimp, steamed pumpkin and udon noodles for our Shabu Shabu. You can put anything in it really.
There are two sauces that you would typically use with this dish, sesame and ponzu. You can buy both pre-made in bottles at the Asian market. We like the Mizkan brand – goma shabu and pon shabu. In Japan, it is also common to dip the cooked meat into a raw egg mixture. I don’t know how comfortable people would be doing that here in the States. I haven’t tried the raw egg method yet, but am very curious as to how it would taste. Sometimes, I like to make the ponzu sauce at home. This too is quite easy to make. I measure out my ingredients in ratios – 1 part lime juice, 1 part soy sauce, 1 part grated daikon and some chopped scalions on top. I also like to add a pinch of sugar. How easy is that?
Here are a few tips I’d ilke to share with you to make your Shabu Shabu experience the best it can be. Cook and eat your vegetables first, then cook and eat the meat. This helps the broth to stay clearer, longer. If you cook all your meat first, the broth can become greasy and dark. Some people cook the meat first to flavor the broth, skim the top of impurities (grease or fat) and then cook the vegetables. We usually eat a bunch of vegetables first, then add in meat with vegetables and then add in more meat with vegetables and noodles! At the very end of the meal, skim the broth again and add in rice, one egg mixed and some chopped scallions and you have a delicious rice porridge. Shabu Shabu is like a million meals in one hot pot. I also invested in one of these bundt shaped pots. The hole in the center helps your meat and vegetables to cook evenly and quickly in the broth without bringing down the temperature, so the broth stays bubbling throughout your meal. You can find these pots at Hanoori Home Plaza, downstairs in Hanoori Town Center in Catonsville, next to HMart. I also like to top up the broth once in a while so that it doesn’t get too concentrated and dark.
Shabu Shabu is a great meal to have with friends and family. Try making it this weekend, it’s a sure way to impress your guests! And don’t be surprised if you end up with food coma!
Do you have any food traditions in your family? Share them with me in the comments section below and don’t forget to subscribe. Happy Eating!