I am not a chef, inspired by the talents of chefs all over the globe, I study as best I can to learn the fine nuances because clearly anyone can open the web and search a recipe. The problem is most receipes lack the sophistication or truly capture the essence of the finesse of the dish. The term is onomatopoeic, a word that imitates a sound, derived from the sound emitted when the ingredients are swished in the boiling dashi-broth.

Shabu-Shabu is a Japanese nabemono dish that is cooked over a gas or charcoal fire, and it is not a stew, so cooking takes place a la minute. Most use thinly sliced meat and vegetables boiled in dashi and served with a delicious dipping sauce. (seen below)

Making – he is easy if you understand with that she is about.So let me start with the notion of the broth which is in part one of the most important elements in cooking shabu shabu. To make it as easy as long as you have the right intentions, and at least some skill and knowledge of Japanese Dashi broth.

Dashi is easy and complicated at the same time because it’s the essence of all Japanese cooking and it includes the key ingredients that comprise Japanese flavors, the very idea of umami. So we start with Japanese seaweed konbu:

There are many different varieties but I am not going to lecture you about which variety you should choose because it depends on the flavor and taste that you wish to have. I use Rausu Konbu and I soak it first in the cold water to soften it and begin to impart the flavor. Throughout the process, the water the water is absorbing the flavors of the seaweed, and then I slowly raise the temperature to about 60°C to permit the gentle proteins, vitamins and umamni to come out from the natural seaweed.

Next is adding the most critical ingredient which is fermented and dried bonito commonly known Katsuobushi, and this is the key to aromas and flavours when cooking any Japanese food.

As a side note, the finest ocean ingredients are always given to the top chefs in Japan so while you can buy some incredible Japanese seaweed you have to be realistic and understand it while you can get good quality Dashi for many top-level Kaiseki chefs require the highest standards of raw materials and they are just not available to the general public.

In order to extract the right amount of flavor you need to decide how much of the fish flakes (katsuobushi) you are going to use and this is something that is personal although there is always a direction given by the producers as to how much you need an order to produce a flavourful Dashi. I often use more and use several kinds but leave this to another time.

So each chef has his own idea and you can use different kinds of fermented Bonito or other kinds of fish called Niboshi but in this particular case it’s not required or it is simply too fishy.

Then you need to heat it up to about 80°C and either using soaked fermented dried fish Katsuobushi in the cold or warmed broth. While it’s on the stove and once you reach just below boiling you’ve extracted it as much as a flavor you need it but you need to taste it with a spoon in order to make sure you have the right concentration of taste and that’s personal and requires a little bit of experience. And you can see I use a very fine mesh sieve in order to have the flavors but not get the actually dried fish in my broth otherwise it’s not suitable.

This is the second step after having soaked the seaweed you’ve completed that step and you need to add soy sauce for the saltiness. I use some Mirin In order to have a contrast between flavors by adding some sweetness but you do not necessarily need to use it to sweeten your sauce and I do it slightly and without any notice and I also add a little bit of Sake. Do you have to be careful Mirin because sukiyaki is the version of shabu-shabu but it is prepared with Japanese sugar, and is sweeter.

Next comes what I consider to be one of the elements critical to enjoying the action of the simmering of the Dashi broth and the swing of the beef while you say shabu shabu it’s cooked and ready to be placed into your bowl which should either comprised of something or nothing.

There are several varieties of Japanese onions, but long onions (naganegi), green onions (bannonegi), and baby scallions (asatsuki) are the most common. The green leaves are a good source of nutrients like carotene and vitamins B1, B2 and C, and contain a digestive aid. The white part of the long onion, which generally is used in soups and nabe dishes. But the stems are miraculous and are not too spicy adding plenty of flavour.

Baby scallions, the thinnest among the onions, are usually chopped and used as a seasoning in soups and nabe (refers to a variety of communal one-pot meals) and noodle dishes.


So the onions are critical in the dipping sauce because they give that raw crunch spice and on the other side you will use liquid sesame (goma-sauce) and you can use a small amount of the Dashi in order to create a liquid effect. But you definitely need to use a little bit of sesame oil with spice spicy sesame oil and it looks like this when you’re ready for your dipping sauce.

You do need the cooking utensils and that’s something that you have to figure out yourself but essentially you need something for screaming the scum because when you’re cooking and you’re adding different vegetables and then the meat you do accumulate a certain amount of cooking scum.

And you do need to buy the right vegetables but you can see in my presentation and then it’s really important when you’re cooking to have a rolling boil especially if you want to have shabu shabu cooked within a matter of seconds otherwise it defeats the purpose of shabu shabu so you have to have a careful control over the fire because you’re adding ingredients and you’re reducing the actual temperature of the broth.

The last piece of advice I can give you is that you need to start with the cabbage and the onion so you’re creating a broth which becomes tasty and imports the flavors of the vegetables and then as you progress you can start to do shabu shabu and you can finish with the leafy vegetables and tofu at the end.

Tamago & Rakyyo Onion Condiments

Here you can see that I have some time ago which is just for people as in intermezzo and then I have on the left side of the photograph some pickled onion which I add some Ddashi and shoyu (soja) sauce with a little bit of Japanese spice on top called Shichimi – seven spices.

Rakkyo are facinating (pictured above left) grown in Tottori Sand Dunes are the biggest and most famous among many sand dunes reaching heights 90 meters from the bottom of the dunes. These sand dunes have a severe climate; during the summer, the surface temperature reaches around 60 to 70 degrees Celsius, but the winter is cold and snow often covers them.

Sakyu-Rakkyo (Japanese sand dune scallions) are produced on the dunes in Fukube cho, Tottori. Rakkyo looks like a small piece of garlic, but is in fact its own species of Japanese scallion, belonging to the Amaryllis family.  Its taste is quite similar to echalote.

The history of Rakkyo began with “Sankin-kotai” — a ritual where each lord of the provincial castles was periodically summoned in Edo (Tokyo) during the Edo era (1603-1868). The lord’s traveling was done in a lavish fashion, with a long parade of samurai-warriors and servants who carried many gifts and goods. Rakkyo were a souvenir that the local lord brought back from the Koishikawa herbal garden in Tokyo. Rakkyo were originally sought as medicine, and the sand dunes were found to be suited for its farming. Later on, the introduction of sprinkler systems enabled farmers to dramatically increase their Rakkyo production. There are approximately 100 farms in the area today.

Sakyu-Rakkyo is more white and harder than its competitors, and has a nice bite to it. Seeds are planted during the hot season – late July to August, and harvested in May or June. The more severe the winter is, the better they taste, is what the farmers say.

Rakkyo are often seen pickled. They can also be cooked with salt or soy sauce. A few pieces of pickled Rakkyo are commonly served with Japanese curry. Rakkyo has herbal medicine properties; it promotes healthy digestion and helps the body absorb Vitamin B1.

And of course, you cannot forget the beef this is a matter of budget and when you go to buy it it has to be sliced thinly, and you place it onto a dish for cooking and do not forget to say Shabu-Shabu whenever you begin to sway the meat in the broth, and in seconds its ready.

My Table
Shabu Veggies

I want to finish by saying that it’s a fascinating preparation because the cooking takes place as you gather around the table and you have the chance to create this very intensive broth that is used both almost as a soup and you use it for cooking and at the end I always enjoy to use Some dumplings just to finish off the meal or even some Chinese noodles.

There is no food quite like shabu-shabu I mean it’s really the idea of cooking at home and sharing with friends and this dinner was shared with some good friends and was really great experience both for our guests (Peter, Henrik, Klara, and Daniela) and for the cook who is learning as he goes along.

Never underestimate the time that goes into preparing this one-pot dish it looks pretty simple but it takes him know-how in some practice in anyone can do it and that’s what’s great about shabu shabu.