Gathering ’round the hot pot

Amanda Muramoto, editor

As cooler weather approaches, people in Hawaii can enjoy delicious warm foods without feeling hot afterwards. Hawaii is known to be a big melting pot of different cultures, and I recommend you try this hot pot from the Japanese people called nabemono (naw-bay-moh-no), or simply nabe.

Cooked in a large clay pot called donabe (dough-naw-bay), this hot meal is cooked on a portable burner on a table or transported from the stove to the center of the table and shared with others straight from the pot. In Japan, groups of friends or families get together to enjoy each others company over the hot pot on cold winter nights. The great thing about nabe is that you can put in a lot of different bite-sized ingredients.

Anna Cheng (10) said she likes hot pots because “you can put anything you want in there.”

Vegetables like carrots, cabbage, or shiitake mushroom are added. Most people also include meats such as chicken, crab, meat, or salmon. Big chopsticks are used to take the food from the pot to your own dish, but some just use their own to pick from the pot.

“Sharing food from the same pot while dipping your dirty chopsticks in means that you’re close” said Junior Naomi Hu.

There are a variety of nabe styles, with shabu-shabu being the most popular. Shabu-shabu is the “swish-swish” sound of the thinly-sliced meat cooking in the pot. The meat is then dipped in a sauce, or tare (ta-ray) for more flavor.

Yosenabe, or “putting together” is also popular. For this type of nabe, all the ingredients are cooked in the same pot and seasoned in a soup-like broth. Making your own Japanese hot pot is simple, fast, and feeds a lot of people. The sidebar is one way to make nabe. First, you start by making the dashi, or broth. This is like the base of your nabe.

As you cook, the ingredients added in also contribute to the flavor of the dashi. There is no specific way to make the broth, since many families have their own version.

There are hot pot restaurants close by such as Hot Pot Heaven in McCully Shopping Center, Ichiriki on 510 Piikoi Street, and Sweet Home Cafe on 2334 South King Street.

Besides eating out, you can make your own hot pot at home.

Cooking in your own kitchen is “cheaper” said Hu. Also, her “whole family goes to buy food.”

As the Japanese say, nabe wo kakomu “to gather around the pot”, to share from the same pot while establishing closer relationships.

Homemade nabe

* you don’t specifically have to put in the following ingredients.

Japanese ingredients can be found in markets such as Nijiya, Marukai or Don Quiote.

  1. Dashi (broth): 3 furidashi (broth packets) 5 inch strip of Konbu (seaweed) Soak for 30 minutes in 8 cups cold water. In the meantime, prep ingredients. Turn up the heat, and before it boils remove the Konbu strip. Keep the furidashi in for 5 more minutes, then remove. Arrange the ingredients into the pot and add the salmon last. Put the cover on, leaving a crack so steam can come out. Once it steams, turn off the stove and serve. 2. Ingredients: salmon: salt, cut then parboil in separate pot. Drain water and put salmon on the side. shiratake noodles: Rinse with hot water then cut noodles in half. Aburage (fried tofu pocket): slice and rinse in hot water Won bok or cabbage: separate stems from leaves and cut Shiitake mushrooms: cut from stem and slice in half Carrots: rinse and cut (optional: can use small cookie cutters for originalty) Green onions: cut into about 2 inches Drain water from tofu and cut 3. Tare (dipping sauce): 3 Tbsp. Water 4 Tbsp. Seasoning soy sauce Mentsuyu Ninben Brand (it has an orange label) 1 Tbsp. Lemon jiru (juice from squeezing a lemon) 1 Tbsp. Japanese rice vinegar 1 Tbsp. Shoyu