Friday, December 4, 2015

Shabu Shabu

Winter is here, there's a chill in the air, the days are short and it's time to huddle together to keep the body and soul warm.  Here is a recipe for my family's version of Shabu Shabu the Japanese dish that is a great way to have a big party dinner and celebrate being together.

Here is a 2 minute video to get you in the party mood.  Every time I use Final Cut Pro I learn some new tricks.  In this one I tried to use as many transitions as possible, pretty much willy nilly as the whole thing is just for fun. I took the videos and stills with my phone as I was waiting for my selections to cook.

As you can see there is a lot of milling around necessary when eating this dinner, that's one of the things that make it a friendly affair.

It really is a matter of shop and chop as the cooking is done by your guests.
First you need one or two hot pots that plug into the wall and keep broth boiling at the table.  Next you must go to an Asian market with as many people as you can for more fun and suggestions - have lunch there if you can.  If you live in the Philadelphia area I recommend the Asian market at 69th Street for an interesting experience.  You will see lots of food you don't find at the chain super markets. I usually go with my dear Daughter in Law, Martina, who suggested this meal in the first place and knows what she is doing.

Buy greens of all sorts, chinese cabbage, spinach, bok choy, scallions, fresh garlic, ginger and cilantro and whatever else looks good.  Mushrooms of all sorts are a must and a nice variety of noodles - the fat ones take a long time to cook, so don't get too many of those.  Then on to the meat and fish department.  They often have frozen or fresh meat sliced thin which is perfect or if you don't like meat get some cod, halibut or salmon or any similarly textured fish.  There are also dumplings in the freezer you might like to include.
Next in the grocery area get Korean Barbecue Sauce - hot and not, soy sauce, chili sauce and fish sauce.  Don't forget some firm tofu for the vegetarians.

Now on to the chopping, again get as many people involved as possible as there is a lot to do, but the good news is you can really do it all yourself if you have to, and it won't take more than 45 minutes.

First put a big pot of water on the stove and as you are chopping put all the parts you don't use (ends of cabbage, little knobs of ginger, onion discards etc)  into the pot to make a starting broth.

Chop garlic, ginger, cilantro and scallions and put them each in separate bowls for the table. Then get to work on the vegetables.  They should be in bite size pieces. Same with meat, fish and tofu although if you get the meat sliced very thin it is ready to go.  If the fish is frozen it doesn't fall apart when you cut it.

About 15 minutes before you want to sit down to dinner turn on the hot pots and put the boiling broth into them.  Put all the things you have chopped in bowls on the table and get people set to eat.  I suggest you seat those who like meat at one end of the table and the fish and tofu guys at the other to keep the hot pots just right for each.
What is really great about this meal is that you get to cook what you want.

Each person starts by putting a nice selection of what they like into the bottom of their bowl.  Chopped garlic, fresh ginger, scallions, and cilantro are a good start with soy sauce, hot sauce, Korean barbecue or fish sauce.  (I am allergic to MSG, so if you are, only use soy sauce and plain hot sauce.  It is still delicious.) Everyone puts some vegetables and protein into the hot pot and in a very few minutes each dinner is served by scooping out the cooked food and putting it into your bowl.  Usually several people put stuff in and share the result.  You continue putting things in and taking things out, adding boiling water from time to time when the broth gets low.  If you have lots of broth of course you can add that but as things go along the broth in the pot gets very flavorful and adding water is okay.

That's it.  Good luck and if you try it please let me know how it all turns out.