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A Staple of Winter: The Origin and Types of Nabe

An introduction to Various Nabe including Hot Trends

One of Japan's most popular winter dishes is "Nabe," a hot pot served at the dining table. Nabe is a general term for a dish eaten at the table while the food is still heated in the pot used for cooking. It is also called "Nabemono" or "Nabe ryori(=cuisine). You may have heard of "Sukiyaki" (photo) or "Shabu-Shabu," but these are also types of Nabe dishes. Nabe-ryori is a type of cooking in which various ingredients are simmered in a single pot. The following is an introduction to Nabe dishes, including the tools and rules for eating them. Table of Contents 1. Basic knowledge of Nabe cooking and its history 2. Types of pots and pans and tools used with Nabe 3. Basic Nabe recipe and varieties 4. Are there any eating rules when eating Nabe? 5. Summary

1. Basic knowledge of Nabe cooking and its history

Nabe is a dish cooked in a pot and served on the table without being separated and eaten as it is cooked. In most cases, the food is heated on a tabletop stove (i.e., cassette cooker, using a small replaceable gas cylinder) or IH cooker and is served in individual bowls or bowls with dipping sauce. Sukiyaki and Shabu-Shabu with high-quality beef and Nabe with luxurious seafood such as crab (photo above) are a feast for the Japanese! This is the kind of Nabe that you should be excited to eat on birthdays and anniversaries. It is also a winter tradition to gather around a hot pot with your closest friends. Several people usually share Nabe, but at Kaiseki(formal party feasts), meals and banquets are served at inns. It is sometimes offered in small pots for one person at a time. Now that the number of households living alone has increased, small pots for one person are also sold. In the late 18th century, when electricity and gas began to spread, the Irori(traditional hearth) began to disappear, and restaurants invented a type of hot pot cooking called "Konabe-jitate(small pot setting)" using portable Hibachi(brazier), etc. This type of hot pot cooking developed in which several people share a pot from the pot.

(↑Irori) In the Meiji era (1868-1912), meat-eating became more common in Japan, and Nabe cooking became popular due to the popularity of Sukiyaki-style "Beef Nabe," the spread of Chabudai(Low tables), and the modernization of cooking at home. Furthermore, with the spread of cassette stoves and other appliances, Nabe dishes became common at home.

2. Types of pots and pans and tools used with Nabe

The most popular pot used for cooking Japanese hot pot dishes is Donabe, the earthenware pot (1). Compared to iron pots, Donabe allows heat to pass through it more slowly and has excellent heat retention properties. It is suitable for cooking in a pot as there is little risk of burning even if you simmer for a long time. Donabe is used for various pot dishes, such as "Yose-nabe," a most common type of pot. Yose-nabe is a general term for one-pot dishes. Many ingredients such as seafood, meat, vegetables, mushrooms, tofu, and shirataki(konjac noodle) are cooked lightly seasoned broth. Local products are added to give the dish a unique flavor, and salt, soy sauce, sake, and miso (red or white miso) are commonly used as seasonings. When you eat all the ingredients, udon noodles or rice are added to the soup that has been infused with the flavor of the various ingredients. Chanko-nabe, which is eaten regularly by sumo wrestlers, is also a type of Yose-nabe. (2) A tabletop stove (3) A pair of Sai-bashi, long chopsticks for serving and cooking (sometimes a serving spoon is provided for the soup) (4) A small bowl for serving (in this case, a soy sauce-based bowl with ponzu sauce) (5) Renge(soup spoon) On the other hand, metal pots such as iron or stainless steel are used for Sukiyaki (note: there are several cooking methods, such as putting the meat in a base called "Warishita" without grilling the meat), where there is a grilling process before stewing the ingredients. Yu-dofu, Shabu-Shabu may also be prepared in specially designed pots (such as at specialty restaurants). If you don't have an earthenware pot, you can substitute metal pots for dishes for which earthenware pots are usually used.

↑Chinese-style Shabu-Shabu hot pot (ingredients include thin slices of beef, pork, etc., meatballs, vegetables, etc.) is popular these days. (The ingredients include thinly sliced beef, pork, etc., meatballs, vegetables, etc. You can select two soup bases, such as spicy and mild.)