Friday food treat: Shabu shabu



Shabu shabu is Japanese hotpot. “Shabu shabu” or “swish swish” is the sound you hear as the meat in this dish is cooked in a boiling pot of broth. 

What’s in shabu shabu?
Shabu shabu is served with thinly sliced meat (beef or pork) , tofu and vegetables like Chinese cabbage, carrots and mushrooms These are cooked in the boiling stock, then dipped in sauce before eating.

The broth is made from putting dried kombu (brown seaweed) in a pot of water and bringing it to the boil. This is removed before the cooking starts.

How to eat shabu shabu
Shabu shabu is a meal where everyone shares in the cooking. The sliced meat and vegetables are served alongside the simmering pot. Each person cooks their meat by using chopsticks to swish it back and forth in the pot until it is cooked (10-20 seconds). Take care not to lose your meat in the broth though – this is not the done thing with this dish. The cooked meat is dipped into a preferred sauce before eating.

The meat is cooked and eaten first. Then, as all the meat juices have been added to the pot through cooking, the vegetables and tofu are added. When these are done enough, they are retrieved with chopsticks and also dipped into a sauce before eating.

What sauces go with shabu shabu?
The sauces that accompany shabu shabu are many and varied and only limited by your own preferences. Suggestions include:

  • sesame seed sauce – made from sesame seeds, garlic, soy sauce, dashi, miso, lemon juice and sugar
  • ponzu – a tangy sauce made from bonito flakes, soy sauce, lemon juice, vinegar and mirin

What’s the appeal of this dish?
Shabu shabu is one of those dishes that brings people together to participate in creating the meal. While the flavour of the broth may be mild at the start, it richness develops throughout the meal. It is also suggested that it is easy to prepare and a healthy, low-fat meal.

Our kitchen facilities are limited for me to try this dish at home. It is also one that is best enjoyed with friends and lends itself to cold winter nights. As far as Japanese cuisine goes, this hotpot has popularity. Despite this, it has not featured as highly for us, as other spicier and more immediately flavoursome ones.


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