HOW TO MAKE
NABE AT HOME
The weather is cold so appetites are up, but the last thing you want to do is spend an hour cooking something you’ll spend a whole 15min eating.
Nabe is your answer. It’s a super nutritious, stomach warming easy meal perfect for winter. There are many types of Nabe around Japan, with each region having their own version, but it’s essentially Japanese hot pot.
The magic is all in the broth and knowing how to pair your soup base with the right ingredients.
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Kitchen Utensils Featured
You don’t need my help with the usual bowls and stuff, but you might want to get the following:
Hot pot at home without the right equipment can get dangerous. I use an electric pot specifically for hotpot to solve the issue of open flames and wobbly stove tops.
Another item you might want to get is these small wire net things to scoop your food out with ease. Again, its to prevent any accidents of slipped food splattering boiling hot soup.
You can click on the above images to get them on Amazon or check out your local Asian supermarket to see if they have any.
The most important thing about Nabe hotpot is the soup base because essentially hotpot is just cooking fresh quality ingredients in a rich umami, spicy or tart broth.
Good broth, good Nabe. Bad broth, bad Nabe.
You can make your own soup base at home if you have the time, but a nice easy cheat is to buy the soup bases available at Asian supermarkets.
I used Daisho’s Nabe broth that are unlike the typical hotpot sou; bases where you add water to. Daisho’s is ready to use right from the pouch so the flavour is always exactly how it should be. Of course, you can still add water to dilute the taste a bit if you prefer a milder flavour.
Once you have the flavours sorted. It’s time to think about what meat you want to cook. Nabe soups change as you eat – gaining flavors from the ingredients you cook in it.
When paired nicely, your soup will taste better the more you eat, and the stuff you eat will taste better with the soup. Which is why, some are more commonly eaten with pork, while others with beef. However, I honestly think it tastes great either way.
My go-to is thinly cut fatty beef. I always get it. It’s not hotpot without fatty beef slices.
Nabe also uses a lot of thinly cut pork slices or chicken. Pork is actually my preferred protein, because Nabe soup bases tend to be lighter and more umami in flavour. It’s also not uncommon to have seafood with your Nabe.
Veggies and stuff
Anyone who doesn’t like eating vegetables and doesn’t know how to cook should get their 5 a day in during this meal.
Vegetables taste great in Japanese hotpot because it soaks up the flavours of the broth giving vegetables a umami taste!
Typical vegetables that work really well for Japanese hot pot is Daikon radish which has a great sweetness and soaks up the soup. Chinese cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, spring onions, sweetcorn and leafy dark greens.
Besides vegetables, we also get tofu products. Japanese hotpot typically uses firm tofu or medium firm tofu diced. Or tofu skin which has a stronger soy flavour.
Last but not least we have our carbs. You normally eat your carbs last because by then the soup base is at it’s best. We had udon that night – trying to keep with the Japanese theme of ingredients and it tasted amazing with the soup.
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