Simple in form, shabu shabu leads the top of my list of all Japanese foods. There is something really appealing about cooking food right at your table. And as someone who believes food should be consumed at just the right temperature, I was so excited to be indulging in a lunch of shabu shabu this past July with some good friends during a weekend trip to Tokyo!
Ordinarily shabu shabu is consumed in winter as with most hot pot dishes, but it is available year round. On this particular summer day thanks to my friend Tomoko, we came upon a tabehodai special. Remember this most important word: Tabehodai means all you can eat and drink! So here were three women ordering 6 trays of thinly sliced beef and pork and doing the “shabu shabu”!
Being the native Japanese, Tomoko started off our steamy pot of dashi, or broth, by adding some slices of kombu seaweed to give it a some flavour. Then it was up to each of us to begin the “shabu shabu”, or swish swish action to cook the finely sliced meat. Tomoko had the patience and experience to gently guide the meat into a nice swishing movement. Meanwhile, in my haste and lack of swishing, my slices balled up and looked shriveled! To the Japanese eye, it may have been aesthetically displeasing, but I got the hang of it and so did Susan! After the meat was cooked to our desire, we had a choice of dipping it into sesame (goma) sauce or a soy sauce mix. Intermittently we also added some chinese cabbage, tofu cubes, enoki mushrooms and ate it with our steamed rice. As we took our time and consumed our final tray of meat, we finished the meal off by adding some vermicelli noodles. While one can consume the rich broth that develops over time, we were way
too full to do so! In fact, we wondered if the restaurant had even made any money from the three of us and the many trips we took to the food bar to fill up on the extra vegetables we wanted to add to the pot! But hey, it’s tabehodai!