Tuna lovers must try this classic dish – Tuna and Green Onion Hot Pot (Negima Nabe). The traditional Negima Nabe only has fresh tuna cubes and chopped thick green onions/shallots (Aussie) cooked in a soy-based broth. But I added grilled tofu and mizuna leaves to mine.
Green onion is the same thing as shallots in Australia and scallions in some countries. I usually write ‘shallots (Aussie)/ scallions’ to be clear on what I am talking about. But today, I used ‘green onion’ because the title of this post sounded better that way. You could call it Tuna and Shallots Hot Pot or Tuna and Scallions Hot Pot.
You might think that calling it Negima Nabe might remove the confusion. But unfortunately, even the Japanese name of this dish has some level of confusion.
Negima Nabe (ねぎま鍋) and Yakitori Negima
Negima (ねぎま) is also the name of a particular type of yakitori – chicken and green onions on skewers. In my post Yakitori, I listed all sorts of yakitoi menu items.
The yakitori negima is the kind that alternates chicken pieces and chopped green onions put on the skewer. In other words, chicken pieces are skewered between the shallot pieces.
One of the Japanese words for the state of between two things is ‘ma’ (間) and green onions are collectively called ‘negi’ ( ねぎ). Because chicken pieces are placed between negi pieces, they call it ‘negima’.
That was a long prologue to get to today’s dish! Negima Nabe came from the Japanese word for green onions and tuna. Tuna is ‘maguro’ (まぐろ) in Japanese. The words ‘negi’ and ‘maguro’ are put together, then shortened to only the first three syllables, i.e. ‘negima’.
Although both yakitori and today’s hot pot are called ‘negima’, the meaning of ‘ma’ is totally different between the two.
About Negima Nabe (ねぎま鍋)
Negima Nabe originated in Edo, which is the former name of Tokyo. From the late Edo period (mid-19th century), people started consuming tuna. In those days, the lean part (red meat) of the tuna flesh, called ‘akami’ (赤身), was eaten and the fatty parts, called ‘toro’ (トロ), were thrown away.
This is because the toro portions spoiled quickly compared to akami. (I wish I was there so that I could eat the abundance of toro!)
For common people, akami tuna was too expensive to buy. So, they tried to eat the fatty portions of tuna that were meant to be put in the garbage bin. By cooking toro in a broth, the fishy smell was eliminated and even the stringy parts of the toro became tender.
It was initially made with just toro cubes and chopped green onions. The broth was a typical soy-based dashi stock.
Traditional Negima Nabe using toro pieces is not consumed these days, simply because toro is so expensive now and you’d rather enjoy it raw to appreciate the flavour and texture of toro, e.g. sushi and sashimi.
I once tried Negima Nabe using tuna belly pieces. When I went to the Sydney Fish Market, I spotted a block of tuna belly sold as ‘sashimi quality’. It was less than the half the price of the toro sashimi slices.
Unfortunately, the marbled tuna belly fell apart as the fatty lines (marbling lines) melted away and each tuna piece split into a few small pieces. But they were so delicious.
What’s in my Negima Nabe
Like many other modern versions of Negima Nabe, I added grilled tofu and mizuna leaves.
Hot pot ingredients
- About 150g / 5.3oz tuna –diced into about 2.5-3cm / 1-1⅛” cubes.
- 2 thick green onions/shallots (Aussie)/scallions – cut into 5cm / 2″ long pieces.
- ½ pack of grilled tofu – 2.5cm / 1” wide block, cut into 1cm / ⅜” thick slices.
- 30g / 1.1oz mizuna.
I used akami but you can use any parts of the tuna.
Japanese negi (which is also called long green onion, Welsh onion and bunching onion) has much thicker stems than Aussie shallots. The thick stem is better suited to this hot pot, so I selected the thick stems from a bunch of shallots. I did not use the top part (dark green part) of the stems.
About Grilled Tofu
Grilled tofu is called ‘yaki-dofu’ (焼き豆腐) in Japanese. It is a firm tofu of about 3cm / 1⅛” thick. Both sides of the tofu are char-grilled, making the tofu firmer and harder to break when cooked with other ingredients.
Yaki-dofu is often used in simmering dishes. Sukiyaki is one of the representative dishes that uses yaki-dofu, although my Sukiyaki recipe uses firm tofu.
If you can buy yaki-dofu, that’s great. But if you can’t (like me), it is not hard to make it from a pack of momen tofu (hard tofu). Lightly oil a non-stick frying pan and place the block of tofu on it. Cook until the bottom of the tofu browns, then turn it over and cook the other side.
You can use tofu without grilling it if you prefer. although by grilling the tofu makes the tofu pieces less fragile when cooked in the broth.
Broth for Negima Nabe
The broth is made of typical Japanese seasonings mixed into dashi stock. But the soy flavour is dominant in this broth.
- Dashi stock
- Cooking sake
- Soy sauce
How to Make Negima Nabe
Most hot pot recipes are very simple when it comes to how to cook them. In short, all you need to do is cook all the ingredients in a broth. Depending on the ingredients, the timing of putting the ingredients into the pot may differ.
Negima Nabe is no exception but before putting the tuna pieces in the pot you need to quickly blanch them to remove the fishy smell.
- Pour boiling water over the tuna pieces until the surface of the tuna pieces turns to white, then cool them down.
- Bring the broth to a boil.
- Add tofu and green onions to the pot.
- When the broth starts boiling again, reduce the heat to medium, then add tuna and mizuna.
- When tuna is cooked through, it’s ready.
There is no dipping sauce for Negima Nabe as the broth has a good flavour and you are meant to eat the tuna and vegetables with the broth. You transfer tuna pieces and other ingredients with the broth to a small serving bowl to eat.
It is the end of summer in Australia and the temperature can still go up to close to 30 degrees on good days. But some the northern hemisphere countries seem to be experiencing the coldest time of the year. Tuna and Green Onion Hot Pot (Negima Nabe) is perfect to have on a cold day.
Tuna lovers must try this classic hot pot, Tuna and Green Onion Hot Pot. As the name suggests, the minimalists only cook fresh tuna cubes and shopped thick green onions/shallots (Aussie) in a soy-based broth. But I added grilled tofu and mizuna leaves to mine.
Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
Cook Time does not include making grilled tofu at home.
- 150g / 5.3oz fresh tuna cut into about 2.5cm / 1” cubes (note 1)
- 2 stems thick green onions cut into 5cm / 2" long pieces (stem part only, about 80g / 2.8oz, note 2)
- ½ block grilled tofu cut into 1.5cm / ⅝" thick slices (about 80g / 2.8oz, note 3)
- 30g / 1.1oz mizuna leaves (note 4)
Boil water in a kettle to 80-90°C / 176-194°F.
Put the tuna cubes in a bowl and pour boiled water over them. When the surface of the tuna becomes white, transfer them to a bowl of ice water to quickly cool them down. Drain.
Put all the Broth ingredients into a pot and bring it to a boil.
Add tofu and green onions to the pot.
When the broth starts boiling again, reduce the heat to medium.
Add tuna and mizuna leaves to the pot. Cook until the tuna is cooked through (1 minute or so after it starts boiling).
Turn the heat off and serve with a small eating bowl to take food from the pot.
Transfer the ingredients into the eating bowl with the broth to eat.
1. Tuna belly is preferred but the red meat portion is OK too. I used the portion between the red meat and the belly.
2. I used only the stem part of the green onion/shallots (Aussie)/scallions that is round and white or greenish white, so that the shallots look like Japanese negi, which is also called long green onion, Welsh onion and bunching onion.
If you can buy Japanese negi, you should use it. You will need one stalk or even less.
3. Grilled tofu is called ‘yaki-dofu’ (焼き豆腐) in Japanese, which is a firm tofu of about 3cm / 1⅛” thick. Both sides of the tofu are char-grilled, making the tofu firmer and harder to break when cooked with other ingredients. Halve the block lengthwise, then slice the ½ block.
4. If you cannot get yaki-dofu, you can make it from a pack of momen tofu (firm tofu). Lightly oil a non-stick frying pan and place the block of tofu on it. Cook until the bottom of the tofu browns, then turn it over and cook the other side.
You can use tofu without grilling it if you prefer. Grilling the tofu, it makes the tofu pieces less fragile when cooked in the broth.
5. Nutrition per serving.
serving: 682g calories: 498kcal fat: 18g (28%) saturated fat: 4.4g (22%) trans fat: 0.0g polyunsaturated fat: 5.3g monounsaturated fat: 6.1g cholesterol: 60mg (20%) sodium: 2195mg (91%) potassium: 1296mg (37%) carbohydrates: 21g (7%) dietary fibre: 2.9g (12%) sugar: 15g protein: 55g vitamin a: 91% vitamin c: 26% calcium: 38% iron: 26%