The term nabe covers all hot pot dishes that are made in a large pot and enjoyed as a communal meal. Nabe can include all sorts of ingredients, from simmered fish cakes and meats to veggies and mushrooms. Oden is a fast food option commonly found in convenience stores during the winter. You can take your pick of ingredients from a variety of options like daikon, fish cakes, boiled eggs, imitation crab, and fried tofu, which are all simmered in a light broth of dashi and soy sauce. Another common type of Japanese nabe is sukiyaki, a stew of beef and veggies which are removed from the pot and dipped into raw beaten egg for a creamy texture to compliment the bold savory flavors. Udon noodles can also be added to the soup to soak up all of those complex flavors left over from stewing the meat and veggies. Chanko nabe is a different style of nabe which brings to mind the sumo wrestlers who eat it on a daily basis. It consists of sumo-size portions of meat, veggies, and fish, often accompanied by rice. Yet another type of nabe, motsu nabe, consists of pork or beef offal. And for the adventurous, there’s always fugu nabe (pufferfish hot pot), which has a mild flavor that pairs perfectly with the citrusy kick of ponzu sauce.
The Japanese have a saying, “mottainai,” which expresses regret about wastefulness (similar to “Waste not, want not”). Making a nabe at home is a great way to use extra vegetables, meat, and seafood. Leftover rice is also perfect for making a creamy and flavorful zosui (rice porridge) after all the tasty ingredients have been picked out the broth. With endless interpretations and versions, nabe never gets boring, especially during those chilly winter months. Why buy a pocket warmer when you can warm up with one of the nabe experiences below?