Shabu-shabu is a representative Japanese hotpot that is as equally well-known to foreigners as Sukiyaki. Cook paper-thin raw beef slices and vegetables in konbu (kelp) dashi broth and eat them with flavoursome dipping sauces.
30 minutes of Prep Time includes time to soak the konbu in water. Cook Time does not include time cooking and eating at the dining table.
Bring the water with konbu to a boil over high heat. As soon as small bubbles start rising, remove the konbu (note 7). The broth is ready for Shabu-shabu.
Cut Chinese cabbage leaves crosswise into 4cm (1½“) long pieces. If the leaves are very wide, cut the leaves vertically in half first.
Cut shallots diagonally into 10cm long pieces. Cut shiitake mushrooms in half diagonally (note 2). If chrysanthemum leaves are long, cut them into two.
Rinse shirataki and spread the bunch of strands on the cutting board, then cut into two or three portions so that each noodle is short (easier to pick them up).
Plate the vegetables and beef slices on a large serving plate, clustering each ingredient together (see the photo in the post).
Finely grate roasted sesame seeds in a mortar & pestle until they become slightly wet (oil from sesame seeds).
Add the remaining Sesame Sauce ingredients to the mortar. Mix the sauce mixture well so that there are no lumps of miso paste. Leave it until required.
In the centre of the dining table, place the broth in a pot on a portable cooktop with a ladle and a bowl of water next to it.
Place the plate of meat and vegetables near the cooktop and two medium-sized bowls per diner with Sesame Sauce and Ponzu in each bowl.
Pick a slice of beef with chopsticks and shake a few times in the boiling water (about 10 seconds or so) to cook the meat. Then, dip the meat in the sauce of your choice and eat.
Add a small amount of vegetables of your choice to the broth and cook until tender. Dip the meat in one of the sauces to eat.
After cooking beef slices, scum will surface. Use the ladle to remove the scum (try not to take too much broth with it) and wash it off in the bowl of water. Repeat this throughout the cooking as you see scum surfacing.
1. Shabu-shabu slices are thinner than Sukiyaki slices so they can be cooked easily by just dipping in boiling broth a couple of times. But sukiyaki slices also work fine. Just cook the meat a tiny bit longer.
If you cannot find very thinly sliced beef, you can slice a block of meat yourself. Please visit Beef Rolls with Asparagus. Instead of beef slices, you can use pork shabu-shabu slices if you prefer.
2. I cut them diagonally to make them look more interesting but you can cut them straight. If your shiitake mushrooms are very large, you might need only 2 or 3 cut into quarters. If your mushrooms are very small, you will need 6 or so without cutting in half. Instead of shiitake mushrooms, you can use shimeji mushrooms or enoki mushrooms.
3. Shirataki comes in a plastic bag filled with water. They are sold at Japanese/Asian grocery stores.
4. White miso, also called ‘shiro miso’ is sweeter than brown miso. If you are using brown miso, increase the amount to ⅓-½ tablespoon.
5. Please refer to Ponzu (Citrus Soy Sauce) recipe in my post Japanese Dressings.
6. If you don’t have a portable cooktop and need to cook the ingredients on the stove, I would suggest that you cook all the vegetables in the pot first, then place beef slices at the end. Try to place each slice separately and do not stack them together a the beef will not cook quickly. Turn the heat off when the beef slices are half cooked as they will continue to be cooked in the boiling broth. Place the pot in the centre of the dining table.
7. Preserve the konbu pieces after getting the konbu out of it. You can use them in other dishes such as Gomoku-mame. I sometimes just munch them. You can also freeze them if not using straight away.
8. This is the traditional way of eating shabu-shabu. But some people prefer to eat meat and vegetables mixed together so that they can enjoy varieties. It is quite alright to randomly cook ingredients but I would strongly recommend that you cook several slices of beef first to get good umami out of it and into the broth.
9. The leftover broth can be used to cook udon noodles or Zosui/Ojiya (Japanese Rice Soup) to finish up the meal. You might need to add a bit of salt and/or soy sauce to adjust the flavour as it is a plain broth. I usually add a couple of beaten eggs and chopped shallots to it.