When visiting Japan in winter, nabe, or a one-pot dish cooked at the table, is a must-try meal. Although it’s possi- ble to have nabe for just one person, sharing a large nabe with like-minded friends is the way to enjoy it. It warms not only your body, but also your heart.
There are many different approaches to nabe, but perhaps the most famous is sukiyaki. The Kanto style of sukiyaki involves boiling the beef and vegetables simul- taneously, while in the Kansai style the beef is fried first and after flavouring with a little sugar and soy sauce, vegetables are added, followed by sake and water. A raw egg is used when eating sukiyaki made in either style, as is warishita, a special sauce for sukiyaki made from sweet mirin cooking wine, soy sauce, sake and sugar.
Japan offers a rare opportunity to eat wagyu beef in its land of origin, and shabu-shabu is the perfect way
to experience this premium meat. Beef which has been sliced extremely thinly is cooked at the table by briefly immersing it in a flavoursome pot of stock. The beef is cooked together with vegetables and tofu and eaten with either a sesame sauce or a ponzu citrus sauce. It’s truly a mouth-watering taste sensation.
Oden, a popular type of street food, is also a kind of nabe, consisting of various ingredients such as daikon Chinese, or white, radish, chikuwa, which is a processed fish cake, firm konnyaku jelly made from devil’s tongue yam, and boiled eggs, all simmered in a stock flavoured with soy sauce.
Other types of nabe include kaki, or oyster nabe, where miso is spread around the edge of the pot to infuse the boiling oysters, tofu and vegetables. Tofu nabe contains tofu gently simmering on a bed of kombu seaweed. Mizutaki takes its name from a delicious stock made from chicken bones, and chanko nabe is famous for forming part of the daily diet of sumo wrestlers. Chanko contains big helpings of meatballs, Chinese cabbage and udon noodles. Trying many different kinds of nabe and increas- ing your culinary repertoire could turn out to be one of the most fun things about travelling to Japan in winter.