Nabemono or simply called nabe, refers to a variety of Japanese hot pot dishes, also known as “one pot dishes”.
Most nabemono are stews and soups served during the colder seasons. In modern Japan, nabemono are kept hot at the dining table by portable stoves. The dish is frequently cooked at the table, and the diners can pick the cooked ingredients they want from the pot. It is either eaten with the broth or with a dip. Further ingredients can also be successively added to the pot.
There are two types of nabemono in Japan: lightly flavoured stock (mostly with kombu) types such as yudōfu (湯豆腐) and mizutaki (水炊き), eaten with a dipping sauce (tare) to enjoy the taste of the ingredients themselves; and strongly flavoured stock (typically with miso, soy sauce, dashi, and/or sweet soy) types such as yosenabe (寄鍋), oden (おでん), and sukiyaki (すき焼き), eaten without further flavouring.
The pots are traditionally made of clay (土鍋, donabe) or thick cast iron (鉄鍋, tetsunabe). Clay pots can keep warm for a while after being taken off the fire, while cast iron pots evenly distribute heat and are preferable for sukiyaki. The pots are usually placed in the centre of dining tables, shared by multiple people. This is considered the most sociable way to eat with friends and family.
Varieties of Nabemono
- Yosenabe – A Japanese hot pot dish made with dashi, vegetables, tofu, seafood, and noodles in a nabe, which is a Japanese pot.
- Chankonabe – (ちゃんこ鍋) This was originally served only to Sumo wrestlers. Chankonabe is served with more ingredients than other nabemono, as it was developed to help sumo wrestlers gain weight. Many recipes exist but usually contain meatballs, chicken, vegetables such as Chinese cabbage and udon.
- Yudofu – Tofu simmered in a kombu stock and served with ponzu and various condiments.
- Sukiyaki – Thinly sliced beef, tofu, vegetables and starch noodles stewed in sweetened soy and eaten with a raw egg dip.
- Oden – A Japanese winter dish consisting of several ingredients such as boiled eggs, daikon radish, konnyaku, and processed fish cakes stewed in a light, soy-flavoured dashi broth. Ingredients vary according to region and between each household. Karashi (Japanese mustard) is often used as a condiment.
- Motsunabe (もつ鍋) – Made with beef or pork offal, originally a local cuisine of Fukuoka but popularised nationwide in the 1990s because of its taste and reasonable price. The ingredients of motsunabe vary from restaurant to restaurant, but it is typical to boil the fresh cow offal with cabbage and garlic chives. After having offal and vegetables, the rest of soup is used to cook Champon Noodles. The soup bases are mainly soy sauce or miso.
Regional Variations of Nabemono
There are wide varieties of regional nabemono in Japan, which contain regional specialty foods such as salmon in Hokkaido – and oysters in Hiroshima. Here are a few examples:
- Ishikari-nabe – Salmon stewed in a miso-based broth with vegetables. Typical ingredients include daikon, tofu, konnyaku, Chinese cabbage, potato, negi, shungiku, shiitake mushroom and butter.
- Tōhoku region
- Kiritampo-nabe – Kiritampo (pounded rice, skewered and grilled) stewed in broth with chicken, burdock, Japanese parsley, negi, thin konnyaku. A specialty of the Akita Prefecture.
- Kantō region
- Hōtō-nabe – A specialty of Yamanashi. Hōtō (a type of udon) stewed in miso with kabocha squash, Chinese cabbage, carrot, taro and the like.
- Chūetsu region
- Momiji-nabe (venison-nabe). Typical ingredients: venison, burdock, shiitake mushroom, negi, konnyaku, tofu, green vegetables, stewed in amiso-based broth.
- Kansai region
- Udon-suki – Udon stewed in broth with various ingredients.
- Harihari-nabe – Whale meat and mizuna. A specialty of Osaka.
- Chūgoku region
- Fugu-chiri – Slices of fugu stewed in dashi with leafy vegetables such as shungiku and Chinese cabbage, and eaten with a ponzu dip.
- Dote-nabe – Oyster and other ingredients – typically Chinese cabbage, tofu and shungiku stewed in a pot with its inner lining coated in miso.
- Shikoku region
- Benkei no na jiru – The ingredients include duck, wild boar, chicken, beef, pork, daikon radish, carrot, mizuna (a kind of Chinese cabbage), hiru (a kind of shallot), and dumplings made from buckwheat and rice.
- Kyūshū region
- Mizutaki. Chicken pieces and vegetables stewed in a simple stock, and eaten with dipping sauce such as ponzu. Ingredients include Chinese cabbage, negi, shiitake mushroom or other mushroom, tofu, shungiku, shirataki noodles.
Nabemono are usually eaten with a sauce sometimes called tare, literally “dipping”. Several kinds of sauce can be used with additional spices, called yakumi. Typical yakumi include grated garlic, butter, red pepper, a mixture of red pepper and other spices, roasted sesame, or momiji oroshi (a mixture of grated daikon radish and red pepper).
- Ponzu – The common ponzu is made of soy sauce and juice pressed from a bitter orange, sweet sake, and kombu (kelp) stock.
- Gomadare (sesame sauce) – Sesame sauce is usually made from ground sesame, soy sauce, kelp stock, sake and sugar.
- Beaten raw egg – Most commonly used as the sauce for sukiyaki.