I’ll open this post with a lead-in I asked Beth to write, about how we were introduced to Shabu Shabu soup (as our friend Marie later informed us, it’s called that because the ingredients go “shabu shabu” or “swish swish” in the broth). And then I will tell you what we did (and how it varies from other methods)
During a recent trip to New England, I discovered a wonderful new way of cooking thanks to an old friend of mine from North Carolina. Chris and I arrived that morning after a red-eye to Logan. After a three hour post flight nap, and absolutely famished after a long day of meandering around Boston’s old haunts, we were greeted with a fabulous dinner. We spent a very lovely evening with Minter and her husband Scott, in their gorgeous home, dining, and curling up by the fireplace afterwards. On this particular night, Minter had made a fabulous hot pot for all of us. The house was quite chilly, and understandably so. It was immense, and terribly expensive to heat. Frankly, I was close to the point of teeth chattering. It was somewhere in the 30’s outside, and so we all huddled around the steaming pot on the dinner table. In the bowl there were goodies such as to satisfy any weary vegetarian on a cold and jet-lagged evening.
Fast forward to two days after returning to Seattle. I make my way down south to the very daunting Uwajimaya: Asian supermarket to the inhabitants of the international district. It was so overwhelming, and yet I wasn’t afraid to solicit the help of any woman who so much as looked my way. I asked all sorts of questions of one woman, such as which of the two portable gas burners was better, to, where I might find a yam noodle. After over an hour, I bought the following: a Chinese made, Japanese sold burner called Iwatani, a very big clay pot with top, matching chop sticks, soup and dipping bowls, some extra big plastic bowls for the chopped vegetables and soup ingredients. I then followed one very helpful woman to the food department, where I began what was a fascinating shopping spree which lasted ages, and made me feel as if I would buy up the entire store. I bought daikon radishes, bok choy, tofu, rice ovalettes or rice cakes, ginger, green onions, miso and other things. I left the store satisfied by the fact that Chris and I were going to make a wonderful meal.
When I arrived home, I tried out the burner. It worked splendidly. All I had to do was put in the canister of butane, turn a knob, lower a switch and whooooosh…..a mini gas stove. I gave the clay pot a wash, poured water in and slowly brought it to a boil. This is what the instructions mentioned should be done for the first cleaning, and before use. After bringing to a boil, letting cool slowly, drying off the pot, removing the canister from the unit, and storing all items, I was anxiously awaiting Friday night’s feast.
Hello! Chris here again…
The night we tried it, I arrived at Beth’s having walked the two miles which separates our houses. I like to walk this because my head clears from spending all day at my desk, and so I arrived, ready to cook.
First, we heated water in the ceramic bowl on a low gas flame. We added Miso (although I think Kumbu “kelp” is more traditional) (I think bullion cubes would work too. But then again, I’m all for adding potatoes and cheese).
In separate bowls we put diced: mushrooms (we used Bunashimeji “beech” mushrooms), bok choy, rice ovalettes (also known as rice cakes), Shirataki “yam” noodles (fine, but next time we’ll probably go with soba or rice noodles), cabbage, tofu, green onions
We made a “dipping” sauce, which is perhaps not the usual way. We grated 2 daikon radishes, some ginger, and a whole (peeled) shallot (which was too much shallot, our sauce was very bitter, so I would advice adding it to taste). Then seasoned it with tamari and lemon.
So, you have the heated up broth, and around the table you have bowls of goodies to throw in, which we did as we noticed any ingredients becoming sparse in the broth.We then dished it out like soup, and added our dipping sauce to our individual soups to taste.
But now that I have read up on Shabu Shabu, I know that is not the normal thing to do. And I am curious to try the more traditional method
Normally, you heat up your broth and use it as your heating element, cooking your items by dipping them in. If you want some mushrooms, dip them in the broth for a couple minutes, fish them out, and then drag them through your dipping sauces and eat (very thinly sliced meat, I read, only takes a few seconds).
Skim off foam when or if it forms. And once you’re done eating your food bits, pour the remaining soup over rice, and have rice soup to finish.
However you do it, it’s all just fun, yummy, and nutritious things to eat with friends and to warm you up on a chilly night.