There is a cold wind blowing through Tokyo tonight. When chilly weather finds its way to this bustling city, Japanese people turn to two classic meals: Oden and Shabu Shabu. Both of these delicious, warming meals are made in a hot pot called a Nabe. Brad and I just bought our first Nabe two weeks ago and have used it twice for Shabu Shabu.
Tonight, Justyna, a good friend in Tokyo, made Oden and Shabu Shabu for a small group of us for dinner.
Oden is made in a dashi broth, which is also the base ingredient for Miso Soup (click here for a recipe).
Ingredients like tofu, boiled eggs, fish cakes, daikon radish, carrots, mushrooms, etc., are boiled in the dashi broth. Oden is also seen in most Japanese convenience stores throughout the winter season. I have never tried it from a convenience store, as it does not look or smell appetizing to me…sorry.
Shabu Shabu, one of my favorite Japanese meals, is similar to Oden in that the food is cooked in a broth. The difference is that it is made with more fresh ingredients. Typically, shabu shabu consists of leeks, cabbage, mushrooms and meat or fish, tofu, and possibly noodles. The ingredients, after being cooked, are dipped in a sauce. The sauce can be made with egg, soy sauce, fish sauce, ginger, garlic, scallions, etc…or can be purchased from the store ready made. From what I understand, using an egg is the Chinese way of making the sauce. Either way, it is delicious.
3 inches dried kombu (sea weed)
leeks, sliced on an angle about 3 inches long
Firm tofu, cut into 2 inch cubes
thinly sliced beef, pork or sashimi grade fish
Fill a Nabe (hot pot) with water. Add the kombu and put over medium heat until simmering. Add vegetables to the broth to add flavor. Add ingredients to the broth as needed until cooked through. Using a slotted spoon or chopsticks, remove the ingredients from the broth and dip in shabu shabu sauce (recipe below).
Shabu Shabu is made entirely in the Nabe. Cooking everything at the table is what makes this form of eating so entertaining and endearing. I love it for the flavor and because it keeps me out of the kitchen and spending more time with guests!
If I were to chose, Shabu Shabu would be my favorite over Oden. It has more flavor and there are more creative options to be had. I love that almost any vegetable can be used. I also enjoy the creative sauce- using a raw egg (something that is not frowned upon in Japan) along with any ingredients that appeal to you, you can make something unique and delicious. Here is my favorite version of Shabu Shabu sauce:
Shabu Shabu Sauce
1 raw egg
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
fresh ginger (chopped)
fresh garlic (chopped)
red pepper flakes
freshly ground sesame seeds
Just mix the ingredients together in a small bowl to use for dipping. If the egg makes you uneasy, it can be omitted.
Stay tuned! This week Brad and I are travelling to Kamakura and are sure to experience some great Japanese food and culture!