I am a huge fan of hot pot, so when Ambien and her hubby were going to visit my new pad as part of their Tokyo itinerary, I knew I had to make my Japanese hotpot debut.
To get started, I bought a portable gas stove from Biccamera (JPY2,400), a funky green nabe pot (it’s actually a claypot, which is similar to the Chinese version), and sake.
Itching to try an authentic Japanese recipe, I went online in search for an easy, delicious one. Like many gaijins who look for recipes in English, I was a little disappointed and what I found were on Western sites that looked quite dubious in their authenticity. A British blogger who used to live in Japan came up with his modified version — a lot of white wine with salt and pepper. The search results threw up Youtube videos, too, and I only found a Japanese stew hot pot demo, and to my amusement, a Japanese recipe for Western-style nabe. What could be in this hybrid? Carrots and sausages! Gross…
I finally came across another gaijin blog who had a Japanese friend prepare a nabe for a party he threw — so that’s where I got this recipe to serve four people:
One or half cup of sake
A splash of soy sauce
Water (I just filled three-quarters of my nabe pot)
Chicken thigh meat
White cabbage or hakusai
One packet enoki mushrooms (golden mushrooms)
Six large shiitake mushrooms
One packet bunashimeiji mushrooms
Yaki-tofu (smooth tofu that has a slightly burnt layer)
One packet of udon noodles
As we simmered the food in the soup stock, I only had to refill it with one cup of water and splashes of sake and soy sauce to top up the nabe. We were bursting at the seams and had to squeeze in ice-cream and strawberries for dessert.
I love hotpot because you can eat and cook together while holding a conversation. This communal style of dining is perfect for those who have limited entertainment offerings — we still don’t have a TV or any cool video games like Nintendo Wii or Sony Playstation. I’ll be keeping this dinner party idea up my sleeve for awhile…