El Nino is definitely here. It was raining cats and dogs last week! The city of Los Angeles isn’t build for rain. There aren’t enough drains. Even if there are drains, they are likely clogged by trash and leaves. When the rain comes, streets, roads and freeways get flooded. It can turn into a river in just one hour. It is insane! On one hand, I hope rain could relieve California drought problem. On the other hand, I am hoping it is not going to rain too much or too intense as flooding can occur. Oh… You can’t always get both ways, we will see what is going to happen in these few months.
The best food for a rainy cold winter night is shabu shabu. Shabu shabu is a Japanese dish that you cook by yourself at the table. “Shabu shabu” means “swish swish” in Japanese. You swish some raw meats in the boiling broth and enjoy them. Other than meats, you also put in and cook a variety of vegetables in the broth too. It makes a perfectly balance meal. There is a very similar dish in Chinese cuisine. It is called “hot pot”. The idea is the same. The main difference is the broth. In Chinese hot pot, the broth is usually bold and flavorful, like satay broth, Sichuan pepper broth, and herbal broth. In Japanese shabu shabu, the broth is very clean with little seasoning. The flavors mainly come from the dipping sauces. There is a creamy and savory sesame sauce. The other one is a citrusy and light ponzu sauce. They both have great flavors and go well with the meats and vegetables.
Shabu shabu is a really fun thing to do at home. There aren’t a lot of preps and the broth is easy to put together. It is a lot cheaper than doing it in a restaurant. A typical shabu shabu usually takes about 2 hours or so. It is a great to do it with your family or with a few close friends. It is an excellent way to spend some times together and have a long chat while enjoying a fun and delicious meal. Hope you will try it soon!
– 3×3-inch piece of dried kombu (seaweed)
– 2 ears corn on the cob (husks and silk removed, cut into 1½-inch-thick rounds)
– ½ napa caggage (washed and cut into big strips)
– 10 shiitake mushrooms (wiped with paper towels and stem removed)
– 1 package of enoki mushrooms (stalk removed and separate into smaller bunches)
– ½ pack of medium-firm tofu (pat dried and cut into 1-inch cubes)
– 1 pound pre-sliced beef or sirloin (very thinly sliced)
– ½ pound pre-sliced pork or pork loin (very thinly sliced)
– 1 package udon (preferably Sanuki)
– Sesame sauce
– Ponzu sauce
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, fill 2/3 full with water. Add the kombu and soak for 30 minutes. Set the pot over medium heat. Remove the kombu from the water just before it comes to a full boil. Boiling combo for too long will make the broth slimy and bitter. Once boiling, add 4 pieces of corn, 1 cup cabbages, and 2 shiitake mushrooms. Bring to a boil again and cook for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the thinly sliced meats on 2 large serving plates. Arrange all the vegetables (corn, cabbage, mushrooms, and tofu) on another 2 large serving plates.
- Get the dining table ready by setting up the portable butane burner. Place the meat platters, vegetable platters, 2 serving bowls, chopsticks or forks, small fine strainer (for scooping) on the table. Pour the sesame sauce and ponzu sauce into 2 sets of sauce dishes. Set them next to the serving bowls.
- In a medium pot, fill with water. Bring to a boil over high heat and simmer.
- Carefully transfer the large pot with vegetables to the portable burner. Turn the heat to medium. Once it is boiling, everyone can start cooking. Place a piece of meat into the boiling water and cook for about 20 seconds until no longer pink. Dip into either sauces and enjoy. Scoop out the cooked vegetable and serve with the sauces. Add more uncooked vegetables into the broth as it goes. If the broth is running low, refill with the boiling water that is standing by.
- Add the udon to the broth at the end of the meal. Bring to a boil and cook until al dente. Divide into serving bowls. Top each bowl of udon with a couple of tablespoons of ponzu sauce.
- I got kombu in a Japanese supermarket. You can also get it through Amazon. Learn a little more about kombu through The Kitchn.
- If you can’t find shiitake or enoki mushrooms, use other Asian mushrooms, like white or brown beech mushrooms.
- Portable butane burner and butane gas canisters can be bought on Amazon or in most Asian supermarkets. You will need about 1½ – 2 canisters of butane gas for 1 meal.
- Pre-sliced meats can also be found in most Asian supermarkets. If you can’t find any, you can cut them yourself. Try this recipe.
- I got both the sesame sauce and ponzu sauce from a Japanese supermarket. You can get them online, in most Asian supermarkets, or make your own. You can try these recipes (sesame sauce & ponzu sauce).
- For any leftover tofu, cut them in cubes and place them on a medium plate or baking sheet. Transfer to freezer and freeze. Once they are frozen, place them in a Ziploc bag. Frozen tofu has a more dense texture and it is great to absorb flavors and liquids. Use them with soup noodles, ramen or even the next shabu shabu.
(Adapted from Just One Cookbook)