Have you ever tried Japanese hotpot in Japan?
Japanese cuisine is not only famous for its eye-catching appearance but also in how we can enjoy them in many different ways. Each dish also has interesting historical stories behind. So let's experience a part of Japanese cuisine.
I had the opportunity to visit Japan in mid-November when the weather was cold and the temperature at night was around 9-12°C. In this weather, there would be nothing better than enjoying some warm dishes with my friends and my beloved family. Hotpot was the very first dish I could think about. In this article, I will write about 2 typical types of Japanese hotpots: Shabu Shabu and Sukiyaki.
I used to eat Shabu Shabu and Sukiyaki in a restaurant in Vietnam where they combined and served 2 types of hotpots together. As far as I knew, Shabu Shabu and Sukiyaki in Japan have major differences in flavors and ways of eating. Unlike Vietnamese, Japanese people only enjoy one type of hotpot at a time. So, what are the differences between Shabu Shabu and Sukiyaki? Let's find out!
The name of "Shabu Shabu" sounds funny and easy to remember but it has no meaning at all. It is simply an onomatopoeia described the sound when you dip the meat in a boiling pot. Shabu Shabu is one of the most popular hotpots for Japanese people because it has a light flavor which is suitable for general taste and very nutritious. This dish is cooked with thinly sliced beef and pork along with flavored broth with cabbage, seaweed, tofu and mushrooms ... and served with a cup of dipping soup.
When I was in Tokyo, I was taken to the Kuro Kurotei Restaurant - くろ黒亭. I heard this place is famous for the super delicious Shabu Shabu and the price of Shabu Shabu set was 6,000 Yen including a broth pot, a large plate of beef and pork along with a plate of veggies including mushroom. I think the price is okey for a group of four. At first they served me a cup of sauce with lots of onions. I didn't know what the name was but it was like miso soup so I drank it. It was later discovered that sauce was for dipping meat, but it was very delicious and not salty at all lol.
My Japanese friend guided me how to eat Shabu Shabu. Put beef or pork into the hotpot but do not eat it immediately after taking it out. You have to let it cool down then dip it into the sauce and do not forget to enjoy with vegetables. Normally, hotpot was usually served with noodles but that day I mostly ate beef and dipped in sauce. Beside the main dish as Shabu Shabu, there were many delicious dishes such as gyoza, tonkatsu, fried oysters ... that you guys must try. One minus point in this restaurant was that the owner was a bit hot-tempered. So if you come here with a group of friends, avoid making noises or else you'll be complained.
To know more about the history of Sukiyaki, I researched on the internet and it said:
During the Edo period, Japanese people were forbidden to eat meat due to the influence of Buddhism. The people sneaked to eat wild boar, deer meat, duck meat. At that time, the pot was not invented yet, so they used a hoe - "suki" in Japanese to fry and cook food known as "yaki".
Then the word "sukiyaki" was born. You also feel surprised about the meaning of Sukiyaki, don't you?
Sukiyaki is also served with sliced beef or pork with scallions, cabbage, Japanese chrysanthemums, mushrooms in a flat pan. However, Sukiyaki's broth is cooked with a rich flavour in the Nabemono style including 2 types broths as Dashi - だ し: lighter broth made from dried seaweed and grated fish for people who love slightly seasoned dishes and Warishita - わ り し し: made from soy sauce and Japanese mirin with the savoury flavour of Sukiyaki. Of course, you can combine both of broths together to suit your taste.
Sukiyaki is prepared and cooked in a flat pan, so the broth is shallow enough to dip beef, pork, vegetables, udon, soba and served with a bowl of raw eggs. The broth should be kept at 65-75°C instead of boiling. When you take the meat out, please dip the meat into raw egg as soon as the meat changes in colour. Last time I went to Tajimaya restaurant - 但 馬 屋 in the center of Umeda, Osaka. The waitress gave instructions on what to do and how to eat it wholeheartedly. However, you also need to keep in mind that there are also some restaurants you need to serve yourself. Tajimaya - 但 馬 屋 is a hotpot buffet restaurant where you can eat as much as you can with the prices depending on the hotpot style. I bought a buffet ticket for Sukiyaki at 2500 Yen and an extra of 300 Yen for drink refill. Shabu Shabu was also available here as well so you could easily choose different types of hotpot in this restaurant.
My first impression is that Sukiyaki and Shabu Shabu are quite similar since they are both sliced meat slices then dip in sauce. When I had a chance to retry Sukiyaki and Shabu Shabu in the homeland where they were born, I changed my mind. Both the recipes and the way of eating them are so different. Personally I love savoury flavour with rich taste as Sukiyaki than the other. And how about you? Please let me know if you have any opportunities to try these 2 types of hotpot.
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