Japanese-style hot-pot, called yosenabe, or just nabe (pronounced nah-bey) for short, is an incredibly versatile dish most commonly made during the wintertime in Japan. Meaning simply I“pot” in Japanese, nabe refers to an entire class of stews traditionally cooked in a large clay pot over a hot plate set at the middle of the table. Diners will place ingredients (usually a type of meat and several kinds of vegetables) into the hot broth and allow them to cook for a while before fishing them out with long chopsticks in a manner somewhat similar to fondue. Once the supply of meat and vegetables runs out, fresh udon noodles or rice are placed in the remaining broth and eaten as a finisher to the meal.
While the ways to recombine the ingredients of nabe are nearly endless, all nabe varieties have a few common themes. They all involve a simmered dashi stock, protein of some kind (fish, beef, pork and chicken are all very common), tofu, napa cabbage, japanese green onion and mushrooms. Some people add kimchi alongside fresh napa cabbage for a spicy kick, or head-on shrimp and whole shellfish for a more seafood based flavor. Pretty much any type of vegetable can be added if desired, including ginger chunks, spinach, komatsuna, daikon radish pieces, pumpkin and asparagus, making nabe a great way to get fresh vegetables into a winter diet when it is too cold for salad to be appetizing.
For the purpose of this recipe, however, we are going to stick to the basics for a tasty nabe that is easy to prepare.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
10.5 oz boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces
¼ head of napa cabbage (sold in Maido as hakusai)
1 tokyo negi, sliced into 2” pieces
1 package of beech mushrooms
1 package of enoki mushrooms
1 package medium firm tofu
1 bag of Daisho shoyu chanko nabe soup base
Pour the soup base into a pot and bring to a boil. If you do not have a traditional clay pot or table safe hot plate, an ordinary pot on the stove will work just fine.
Once the broth is boiling, add the chicken.
Reduce heat to medium, skimming fat off the top as needed.
Slice the napa cabbage into roughly 2” square pieces and set aside.
Cut the tofu into bite sized chunks, then set aside.
Remove the root of the enoki mushrooms, then set aside.
Break the beech mushrooms apart at the root, then set aside.
Once all of the non-meat ingredients are cut and ready, add them to the broth with the meat.
Reduce heat to a low boil and simmer until the meat is fully cooked and the vegetables are tender. Serve piping hot.
The main benefit to using the hot plate on the table is so that new ingredients can be continually added to the remaining broth as they are eaten. This makes the preparation and consumption a communal experience among those eating— a perfect way to settle in with family during the colder months. That said, hot plate or not, nabe is still a wonderful dish for a winter day.