Guide to Hot Pot
Hot Pots on a Cold Day
With the colder months coming and so much rainfall lately, your Japan travels may require a few more layers of clothing or some hot tea between stops. While many think of Japan only as a tropical island destination, the nation can get quite cold during the chilly Winter holiday months of November, December, and January. In fact, an old friend of mine was regaling me with her tales of a trip to Japan a few years back during a particularly brisk December. She was super excited to explore the island nation (especially as a Nikkei Japanese American) only to find she didn't have enough layers to keep her warm while traveling Tokyo's trendy Harajuku & Shibuya Crossing. While Okinawa can maintain a tropic atmosphere year-round, you better pack a warm coat before your next Japan tour if you plan on seeing the country in the Winter. If you really insist on skipping out on a heavy coat, then be sure to at least eat some authentic Japanese cooking like Hot Pot to stay warm. Not sure which to try? Japan Deluxe Tours has you covered.
Arguably the favorite hot-pot offering for this Japanese writer, Sukiyaki is a delicious medley of meats and veggies in a semi-sweet stew like broth. While the Japanese in Kanto and Kansai may disagree how to prepare sukiyaki, you won't mind once you sink your teeth into your first helping of wagyu meat and delicious vegetables. Unlike other hot-pot dishes, sukiyaki is often served with a raw egg in a bowl for you to dip your meat and veggies into. Some popular ingredients include: Vegetables, tofu, konjac (shirataki) noodles, and thinly sliced pieces of Japanese wagyu beef or tender pork. Sukiyaki is such a popular dish, it isn't a surprise to see your favorite Anime characters enjoying this winter time treat around a kotatsu.
If you're a traveler looking for a dining experience during your holiday vacation, Shabu-shabu is the way to go. Named after the unique style of cooking your meat in the hot-pot, patrons dip their meat into the hot-pot to cook their food for a few seconds. It only takes a few second, or the same amount of time it would take to say
shabu-shabu to cook the meat.
Served with ponzu sauce or goma sauce, Shabu-Shabu is a popular form of Japanese cooking loved around the world. Whether it's Japan or the United States, Shabu-Shabu is a go-to for families and couples in the winter. Families and friends can enjoy a fun night sitting around the hot-pot swapping stories, cooking their meal, and share an enjoyable dining experience.
Nabe simply refers to stew, but Japan Deluxe Tours highly recommends eating authentic Chanko Nabe if your vacation ever takes you to Tokyo or Osaka. Meant to feed the behemoths known as the Sumo Wrestlers, Chanko nabe is a heavy dish stacked with proteins like chicken or fish, with tofu and veggies making up the rest of the dish. Even though the dish is heavy in calories and a means for sumo wrestlers to gain quick amounts of fat and proteins into their bodies, the Japanese people have found their own attraction to the stew. The best part? Unlike other hot-pot dishes that follow strict recipes or preparations, Chanko Nabe is an informal dish utilizing whatever ingredients are available.
Honorable Mention: Oden
Not sure which hot-pot dish is for you? If you're looking for something a bit more informal or on the go, why not stop by for Oden? Available at most convenience stores during the cooler months (or year rounds depending on the prefecture) or offered at Izakaya's, oden is the ultimate epitome of Japanese comfort food. Oden is made using a variety of ingredients, including eggs, proteins, daikon radishes, and fish-cakes, in a lightly-stewed soy-flavored dashi broth. Cheap, easy to order, and filling, Oden is the perfect on-the-go hot-pot treat before sitting down for a full serving of Sukiyaki, Shabu-shabu, or chanko nabe!