As I was emptying my kitchen cabinets(renovation starts next week), I came across my shabu shabu pot. It’s a stainless steel round pot with a 3″ lip and it plugs into an outlet, which makes it ideal to cook your food right at the table. My grandmother had a version of this pot, and we used to clamor around her as she swished meats and tofu into an anchovy based broth with her exceptionally long chopsticks. She never once had painted nails, but there was something awfully feminine about the tapered black chopsticks, and it may have been the culinary equivalent to a manicure.
My recent visit to Sushi Main Street and the longing I had for a decent clay pot meal had me pulling out all the stops in tonight’s shabu shabu, of course, done my way.
First get all the ingredients which can be simple to extensive. Then wash and cut up vegetables in long strips(easier to pick up with chopsticks). I couldn’t resist showcasing them like a bouquet.(Recipe and ingredients list can be found on recipe page.)
Unlike my grandmother’s broth, I make mine using just kombu. I fill my shabu shabu pot almost 3/4 full with water and break a 5″ piece of kombu and bring it to a boil. Then I quickly lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, and then remove the kombu. This should be done right before eating. If you don’t have a shabu shabu pot, please don’t fret! Use any clay or stainless steel pot that isn’t too deep(or you’ll have a problem getting all the ingredients out) and cook it at the table using a campfire stove. They sell them online for about $14 so you don’t have an excuse for not getting one. Also, I live in earthquake country, so having a campfire stove is just smart living.
The point of shabu shabu is to cook very thin pieces of meat or seafood or veggies in a jiffy and to smother them with some sort of sauce. I don’t like store brand sauces because of the msg, so I make my own. There are two basic ones I make: Soy-Lemon Dipping Sauce and Crushing It Sesame Sauce.
When all the food is cooked and eaten, you place some udon in each person’s bowl and pour hot broth over it. Then garnish with cilantro, scallions, mung beans, jalapeño pepper slices, and sauce. Any of these ingredients can be omitted or changed out. My grandmother never cooked with cilantro, at least not with the kind you associate Mexican cooking with. There were other herbs she used like minari(only found in asian stores). Also, her sauce was less sweet and more spicier. Either way, the steaming bowl of noodles you are rewarded with at the finale of shabu shabu is always a showstopper.