Nabe is not so much one specific recipe as it is a style of eating. The entire family sits around a table laden with cut veggies and meats, a burner, and a very large pot of boiling broth. Each person has rice and their own dipping sauces, and everyone selects what they would like, adds it to the pot, and starts eating. It’s a very interactive meal; great for cold winter nights or dinner parties.
There are many different types of nabe, as I hinted at, but the most basic kind is just veggies, a protein of your choice, and dashi broth. You can also make this recipe vegetarian with a Konbu seaweed broth, I’ll give instructions below. This recipe serves 4.
8in x 3in piece of konbu kelp
1/2 cup bonito flakes
1 package soft tofu
3 large carrots, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces, plus
1 tbsp grated carrot (per person at the table)
1 bunch green onion, sliced into 1 inch pieces, plus
1 tbsp thinly sliced green onion (per person at the table)
1/4 head of green cabbage, cut into squares
1/2 cup daikon, cut into quarters and then sliced, plus
1 tbsp grated daikon (per person at the table)
1-2 packets enoki mushroom
1/2 cup shitake mushroom, cut into quarters
1/4 cup dried wakame seaweed
1-2 lbs of protein (I like thinly sliced beef for a shabu-shabu style hot pot. Other great options are fish, squid, octopus, crab, thinly sliced pork, or shrimp)
2 packages udon noodles
1 bottle Ajipon (Flavored Ponzu)
Small, portable gas burner (such as the ones used for camping)
Start by bringing a large pot half filled with water to a boil. Add the konbu and bonito flakes and let simmer for about 15 minutes. If you are making a vegetarian version, leave out the bonito flakes and simmer the konbu for 20 minutes. You can add 2 tbsp of cooking sake to help further develop the flavor.
When your broth is ready, remove the bonito flakes and konbu. If you would like, you can cut the konbu into small pieces and add it to your other ingredients; it’s tasty!
Now that you have a broth, you are ready to start the hot pot party. You will need a large table to place the burner and cut veggies/meats onto. Give each person 1 bowl of rice, 1 dipping bowl with 2-3 tbsp of ajipon, some grated carrot, daikon, and the sliced green onion on the side (which they can add to the bowl to their liking), and chopsticks.
Next, place the simmering broth onto the burner, and turn the burner to medium heat. Wait until the broth is simmering again, then add your veggies and start cooking. Thinly sliced meats should be swished in the water until they are fully cooked. Veggies should be left to boil and removed when ready. It’s up to each person to keep track of their veggies and meat!
To eat, simply dip the cooked vegetable or meat into the ajipon, and eat with rice.
Overtime, a foam will develop in the broth. I recommend scooping this out with a spoon periodically. You may also need to add fresh water half-way through as well. Refill the pot and wait for it to boil again before continuing to cook. When you’ve finished all the cut ingredients, it’s time for the udon. The udon are saved to the end of the meal, as a sort of palette cleanser.
Sprinkle the remaining broth with salt to taste. Then add the udon and boil for 4 minutes. Eat plain or dipped in ajipon; however you prefer. Enjoy!