Friday, May 20, 2011


My father spent quite a bit of time living in Japan and Korea when he was younger. Living in Korea wasn’t so great seeing how it was during the Korean War and he was a communications specialist for the US Army. Dad never talked much about the war itself but often talked about time spent with his closest and dearest friend right up to his death. Dad lived in Korea from 1950 till 1953 when the armistice was signed on July 27th between North and South Korea. Shortly after that he was transferred to Japan and there he stayed until 1961.

Like his time in Korea, Dad never talked much about his service in Japan. The culture did, however, have a huge impact on him when it came to food, drink, and cleanliness. I became familiar with Saki, Hot Pots, Asian Noodles (Soba, Udon, and Ramen) and many other items growing up because Dad had his favorites that he craved. I think this might account for my Sisters and mine affinity to many different and exotic foods.

A month or so ago I saw an episode of Food Jammers making a hot tub with a built in Hot Pot and they made Shabu-Shabu. It brought me back to when my Dad first introduced me to this dish. I was pretty young and I remember my Father kept saying you have to dip the meat in the broth and say “Swish Swish” which later in life I found out was literally the translation of Shabu-Shabu. Go figure!

Shabu Shabu Hot Pot, Electric Mongolian Hot PotShabu-Shabu

For the broth and vegetables:
7 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
One 3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thickly sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the side of your knife
8 scallions, white and 1 inch of the green parts, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Max Burton Mr. Max Table Top Burner (Black)1 tablespoon Asian (toasted) sesame oil
1 small Napa cabbage, cored and thinly shredded
6 carrots, thinly sliced
2 large red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps sliced
1 1/2 pounds boneless shell or sirloin steak
1/2 pound sugar snap peas, blanched in boiling water for 30 seconds, drained, and shocked in ice water

For the sauce:
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon prepared wasabi*
1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Ready! Set! Cook!
To make the broth, combine the stock, ginger, garlic, scallions, soy sauce, and sesame oil in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Strain, discard the solids, and return the stock to the saucepan. Keeping the heat at medium to medium-low, maintain a slow, steady simmer while preparing the dish. Add the cabbage and simmer for 1 minute. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a large platter. Do the same for the carrots, peppers, and mushrooms, cooking the carrots and peppers for 3 minutes and the mushrooms for 2 minutes. Arrange each in a separate mound on the platter as they are cooked.

Place the beef in the freezer for about 30 minutes or until slightly stiff. This makes it easier to slice thinly. Cut the beef against the grain into paper-thin slices and arrange decoratively on a different platter. Add the peas to the platter.

To make the sauce, combine the sour cream, wasabi, chives, and mustard in a small bowl. Thin with water as desired. Stir well and season with salt and pepper.

Almost Done!
Set the fondue pot in the middle of the table, fill it with the broth, and bring to a simmer. It is up to each of your guests, in turn, to finish cooking this dish. Diners choose the vegetables they want and place them in their empty soup bowls. Then they take as much of the raw beef as they want and cook it in the fondue pot for 2 to 3 seconds (Hence the Swish Swish term). Next they add the vegetables selected, which should warm up in about 1 minute. Finally, using a slotted spoon, diners transfer their beef and vegetables from the fondue pot to their bowls and then ladle on some hot broth and a spoonful of the sauce.

Gekkeikan Sake

Takara Sake

This is a lot of fun and makes for good conversation around a table. I will recommend a good Saki such as Gekkeikan or Takara to go with your meal. Keep in mind traditionally if you have rice with your Shabu-Shabu you will not serve Sake with it as Sake is looked at as being a part of the meal and should not be served with rice. If you have rice then a Japanese beer would be more appropriate. Of course, in the end it’s up too you what you want, but that’s just a bit of Japanese dinning cultural faux pas.

Oh yeah, don’t forget your toast at the start of the meal “Kampi!”


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