by Devon Sponheimer
Shabu Shabu (しゃぶ しゃぶ), adorably named after the “swish, swish” noise it makes while cooking, is a delicious Japanese dish dating back to Osaka in the early 20th century and evolving from Chinese hot pot dishes. This savoury cousin of sukiyaki is a meal not to be missed.
What is Shabu Shabu? (And why do I want to eat it just because it sounds cute?)
Shabu-Shabu involves the cooking of thinly sliced meats and veggies in a hot pot. Traditionally it uses beef, but many versions use pork, chicken, and shellfish. Along side the dish are tofu, noodles, and many veggies like onions, carrots, mushrooms and cabbage. It is often served with a side of white rice.
Shabu-Shabu was invented in the last century, in Osaka, at the restaurant Suehiro. The origins of the meal actually trace back to the Chinese hot pot known as Shuan yang rou. Although it has similarities to other Japanese dishes such as Sukiyaki, Shabu-Shabu is most similar to the Chinese version.
Suehiro was smart, and registered the name, Shabu-Shabu as a trademark in 1955. The dish has become a favourite with tourists visiting Japan, with many eateries specialising in it throughout major cities like Tokyo and Osaka, and has spread across the world with many western capital cities having at least one Shabu-Shabu restaurant.
Whether going out to a restaurant or cooking at home, you don’t want to look like a Shabu-Shabu novice. Here’s how to Shabu-Shabu like a professional.
Step one: Heat up your broth!
Shabu Shabu ‘broth’ can either be boiling water (boring) or dashi broth with kelp, seasoned to taste (I like to use garlic, and a bit of chili powder in mine for kick). The broth should be heated in a hot pot. BUT if you’re like me and don’t happen to have a hot pot, in a pinch, you can heat the broth in a large stew pot over the stove. When it’s boiling, you can either stand around the stove and cook your food or bring it over to the table and VERY QUICKLY cook the rest of your food, returning it to the stove when it gets too cool. I don’t actually condone running with boiling liquids, so really, just get a hot pot if you’re doing this at home.
Step two: Veggie time.
Once the broth is heated, cook your veggies and noodles. Put in the longer cooking ones first (like carrots). They can sit in the pot for a bit and absorb all that delicious flavor. Veggies and noodles can be fished out from the pot with the wire basket provided. (Or alternatively a slotted spoon if you’re doing this at home and don’t happen to have a handy wire basket)
Step three : Swish, Swish!
It’s what you’ve been waiting for!! Cook that meat! Using your metal chopsticks (or tongs, like I did), swish the meat around in the broth until it’s cooked. If you’re doing this at home, it can be hard to find thinly sliced meats if you’re not near an Asian grocer. Ask your butcher to slice up some rib eye or top sirloin if you want to use beef.
Step four: Saucy.
Naturally, you should dip these yummy meat slices in sauce. Use Ponzu or Goma to flavor the meat and enjoy! Once finished with all the ingredients, feel free to use the left over broth to make a delicious soup by pouring it over your rice (the real reason that using boiling water is boring)
And like that you’ve earned your Shabu Shabu certification.
Have you ever made Shabu Shabu,
How did it turn out?
Tell us in the comments below!