Nabemono or Nabe is a dish that is enjoyed by many Japanese people and foreign people alike in the cold, winter months of Japan. Nabe is known as a Japanese hot pot consisting of many different ingredients like noodles such as udon, vegetables such as mushroom, and in some nabe, meat such as beef. It’s basically a big crock pot full of soup or stew that the family will share as a means to stay warm during the winter. There are many different types of delicious Japanese hot pots including these five nabe dishes that you should try.
1. Chankonabe – Nabe for the Sumos
Chankonabe is a delicious type of hot pot that was traditionally only eaten by Sumo wrestlers. An easy way to spot chankonabe is with the high volume of ingredients as chankonabe typically has more ingredients than other nabes. Chankonabe is filled with ingredients that are high in protein such as chicken and meat. It also usually has udon and vegetables, but ingredients can vary depending on the chef. In the past, sumo wrestlers would eat chankonabe in high quantity in order to gain weight, but now it is a type of nabe enjoyed by everyone.
2. Oden – No, Not The Norse God
Great. Now that Marvel fans are paying attention here is another delicious nabe dish to try. Perhaps you have heard of it before as it is quite a popular kind of nabe, especially for tourists visiting Japan. Oden is quite the chunky nabe as it is made up of bulky ingredients such as boiled eggs, daikon (Japanese radish) and fish cakes. It is also made out of a rather tasteless, interestingly textured jelly known as Konnyaku or “Devils Tongue” that is made from Konjac potatoes. It’s chewy and reminiscent of rubber, but with no particular taste.
3. Shabu-Shabu – The Nabe Adopted From China
Many things migrated from mainland China and into Japan where, from it, the Japanese have adopted and made something of their own. That is certainly no exception with some foods including the Shabu-Shabu nabe introduced from China in the 20th century. This nabe consists of thinly sliced meat such as beef and vegetables such as Chinese cabbage, chrysanthemum leaves, mushrooms, carrots and nori (seaweed). Once the meat and vegetables are cooked, it is dipped into sesame seed sauce just before eating. Shabu-Shabu may also be served with noodle or an alternative kind of meat.
4. Sukiyaki – For The Sweet And Salty Lovers
Perhaps, if you have been to a Japanese restaurant in America, you have heard of sukiyaki before. It’s simply a nabe-style dish cooked with thin strips of beef that are sweetened and salted with sugar and soy sauce. Along with the beef, the nabe consists of vegetables. Usually, people would dip both the beef and the vegetables into beaten raw egg just before eating. To some foreigners, dipping meat into raw eggs before consumption may not sound very appetizing; however, many foreigners who are brave enough to try it find it to be quite delicious.
5. Yosenabe – Everything or Nothing
For those who can’t decide on what kind of nabe to eat, or if you are an “all or nothing” type of person, Yosenabe is a great hot pot to try. The name comes from the Japanese word for “yose” meaning “gather” or “put together”, basically this nabe has a little bit of everything being cooked together in one hot pot including beef, chicken, pork, seafood, vegetables, tofu and miso based broth or broth seasoned with soy sauce. Of course, the ingredients may change depending on the region, so everything included in Fukuoka’s nabe may be different for yosenabe in Tokyo.
It’s true for all nabe that, depending on where and who makes it, the ingredients may differ, but generally, the ingredients mentioned here more or less will be found in these types of nabe. The difference in ingredients by region might even add to the fun of trying a dish with so many different ways to prepare it. However, no matter where you are and no matter who cooks the nabe, all nabemono will achieve the ultimate goal of keeping those who eat it warm during the winter months. So grab a bowl and a seat at the kotatsu (heated table) and enjoy a Japanese hot pot.
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