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Hot pot delights: Shabu Shabu and Sukiyaki

Shabu Shabu pot with typical ingredients

Toward the end of the 1800s, eating meat became very popular in Japan. It was considered high-end and modern. Japanese ‘wagyu’ beef is considered by some as the best worldwide. This exquisitely marbled, melt-in-the-mouth meat can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, such as in hot pot dishes like shabu shabu and sukiyaki.

Shabu Shabu

Marbled meat being dipped in shabu shabu broth

Shabu shabu is a type of hot pot that  typically comes with a clear, subtly flavoured broth, similar to meat fondue in Europe. It usually includes vegetables, tofu, and shirataki noodles (a type of gelatinous, thin, glassy noodles made of ‘konjac yam’). The meat, whether wagyu or pork, is cut into paper-thin slices and is brought out on the side. One then dips the meat into the boiling broth for a few seconds to partially cook it. It is then dipped in a flavoursome sauce, such as a citrusy ponzu sauce, before eating. Shabu shabu is somewhat reminiscent of the European style fondue.


Sukiyaki with egg on the side

Sukiyaki is similar to shabu shabu, as it is also cooked in a hot pot and uses similar ingredients like tofu and vegetables. The main differences however, are the cooking style and the broth. The broth is called ‘warishita’, and is a mixture of soy sauce, mirin and sugar (with the possible addition of sake and dashi stock). The cooking method depends on the style: the Kansai  style or the Kanto  style. With the Kansai style, the meat is partially cooked first, then topped with warishita to finish the cooking process, and the other ingredients are added at the end. If it is cooked in the Kanto style, then all the ingredients are added and simmered together. The dipping sauce for the meat for either style of sukiyaki is not so much a sauce, but a beaten fresh raw egg, which is said to enhance the flavour and richness of the beef. These days, sukiyaki can also include ingredients such as chicken, fish or udon noodles.

What do you think? Would you try either or both, or have you already had the pleasure of eating them before?


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