Thursday, February 10, 2011

Nabe--The Simplest Dish

Nabe is almost my favorite thing ever to eat in the winter.  A warm, simple dish with a simple name--"Nabe" just means "pot". 

...assemble some vegetables, tofu, and protein (chicken meatballs, here, and later I put crab legs in so the soup would taste good).

Clockwise from top left corner--Hakusai (napa cabbage), naga negi ("long" onion, like a leek), carrots, shimeji mushrooms, kinu tofu (silken), chicken meatballs, maitake mushrooms...

Put about two cups of water in the pot, add all the ingredients (cutting carrots into fancy flower shapes optional), turn on pot... simmer 'til cooked.

...Ponzu (soy sauce with citron) is optional, but I love to add a little to my bowl.

The nice thing about Nabe is the way it makes the whole room warm while it's simmering, and also the minimal cleanup (one bowl per person, one pair of o-hashi). 

...pick out the bits you like and put them in your bowl!  This is a nice, shared family meal.  Everybody eating together out of the pot...(though it's customary to use a ladle, if you use your own chopsticks to get something, it's nice manners to turn them around and use the end you haven't been eating off of to get the bite you want...).

There was soup leftover since my husband got home very late--so we just kept it 'til morning, reheated it, added rice from the rice cooker and two beaten eggs.  Let the egg cook for a minute--and ladle into bowls!  A drizzle of soy sauce tastes nice, too.  A nice, warm breakfast on a pretty cold day (our weather forecast says maybe a little snow are *so* excited!).


Mata ryouri shiou, ne!


  1. ooh, i like the idea of this for a breakfast. Who wouldn't want that in the morning?

  2. Yum! I might make this for dinner...hubby has class tonight and a very small window for dinner. Crock pot is my friend! Speaking of which, I love that crockpot. Very cute!

  3. Sarah--it was really good and filling for breakfast! Fast, too! This is actually the first time I've done that--usually we put udon noodles in the broth when we're done with all the vegetables and meatballs, but no udon yesterday. Thus, the rice and egg. My husband actually suggested having it in the morning--I thought "that'll be easy!" It was!

    Summer--actually it's not really a crock pot (I've never used it for all day slow cooking like a crock pot)...I'm not sure what to call it. Useful, though! It was a wedding present, as a matter of fact--maybe the best one we got! I've used it *tons*. Very easy to clean out, too. Sunday we'll probably do Korean Barbecue using the other pan insert... If you're going to try the Nabe for dinner--it doesn't take very long to cook! Only20-30 minutes, maybe...

  4. I've recently found your blog and have been enjoying it as I'm fascinated by Japanese culture, particularly the food. Is there anything special about the chicken meatballs? Any specific flavorings?

  5. Brian--Yokoso! Thanks for stopping by! So glad you enjoy my attempts to describe Japanese culture and food and nature and whatnot:-))

    Hmmmm---I didn't make those meatballs myself, but they usually are ground chicken plus ground (or grated) carrot and cabbage and sometimes lotus root. Most stores sell them ready-made, so when I'm busy (which is most of the time;-)) I just buy them to throw in. But they're easy to make if you just get ground chicken and grate some carrot and cabbage and mush it all together....

  6. YUM! I'm a huge fan of nabe. It's such a perfect food. It's seasonal, it's communal, it's easy, and it's delicious. The Japan Times recently had a piece on nabe, with some Tokyo restaurant suggestions: The one nabe that I have not yet tried is chanko nabe, the sumo wrestler's nabe. Have you ever had this feast of cool-weather goodness and/or do you happen to have a good recipe?

    I think the name for the Japanese nabe "crock pot" is actually (technically) 鍋 nabe, though I, too, can't really picture people referring to the thing as that. Hmm, whatever the word is, I think it's time that I get one for the U.S.

  7. Ah-ha! From Shizuo Tsuji's Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art (pages 256-258 in the 2006 edition): there is the traditional earthenware casserole-type vessel, the donabe 土鍋; there is also the traditional cast iron vessel, the tetsunabe 鉄鍋; he lists a sukiyaki-nabe as another type of dish, though he does not specifically describe this type of vessel; he also notes the Mongolian style hot pot vessel, which looks more like a shabu-shabu style thing; and he also mentions what many people use at home nowadays, the electric skillet, though he does not give a Japanese term for this item, which is basically what I was looking for. Oh well, some more information, some lingering questions!

  8. Hi, Chris! You know, I've never tried chanko nabe either... but I'll ask around for a recipe! I have some friends who are *much* better cooks than I am! And you're right, "nabe" is pot, and it's used to refer to the ceramic/ earthenware pot. But my electric one... well, it has two different inserts! One deep one for Nabe, and one shallow one for Yakiniku. I love it, though. Useful, and easy to clean out. I totally love Nabe, too--I can even make it on nights after I've had class, it's so fast and easy. And warm--warms the room right up. And *healthy*--I get so many vegetable into my kids that way! A mommy's dream meal... Pretty cheap, too--what's not to like!

  9. You know, whenever I ask my husband to get that thing out, I just say-- "Kyou wa Nabe da yo! Are totte kure?" Just "are"... "that thing". I should check the box...