Japanese one pot meals, or nabemono, are an enjoyable and delicious way to cook and eat a meal. Nabemono is cooked at the table as a group and enjoyed at a leisurely pace. Shabu shabu and sukiyaki are both a type of nabemono that are becoming increasingly popular with diners worldwide. Below is a basic, healthy Japanese one pot meal recipe, little variations can create hundreds of different meals.
There is very little special equipment needed to begin enjoying your own one pot meals at home. All you need is a butane burner and a nabe, or clay pot. Both of these can be found relatively easily in a specialty Japanese grocery store, international district, or sometimes even in at a large natural foods store.
One Pot Meal Ingredients
Once you have those two items it is time to gather your ingredients. You’ll need stock or flavored water, an assortment of vegetables, noodles or rice, tofu and/or your meat of choice.
There are many different kinds of one pot meals, but the main division between them is the liquid they are cooked in. Some call for a lightly flavored stock and a dipping sauce, which highlights the taste of the individual ingredients. Others use a strongly flavored stock and no dipping sauce.
While there are no particular vegetables that you must include in your nabemono, some common ones are Chinese cabbage, mushrooms, green onions, carrots, and spinach. Anything that will cook relatively easily will work well in a one pot meal.
To accompany your meal you can choose between a side of rice or toss in some noodles into your stock towards the end of the meal to enjoy a flavorsome noodle soup. Udon noodles are particularly easy to use for nabemono.
Most meats can easily be cooked as part of your meal. Most popular is beef thinly sliced, but it is also common to use pork, ground chicken formed into meatballs, duck, goose, fish or shrimp. If you prefer to keep your meal vegetarian, firm tofu will work as well.
How to Cook?
Nabemono meals are cooked as a group around a table, which allows people to enjoy each other’s company as they enjoy the food. Before you begin be sure that you have everything sliced and prepared to cook. Place your nabe, or clay bowl, filled with hot stock on the butane burner in the middle of the table.
Once set up you can cook your meal in any order you would like, but most start with the meat, then vegetable and end with the rice or noodles. You use your chopsticks to swish the meat, or vegetable, around in the hot stock until it is cooked to your tastes. Take your time and enjoy the experience as much as the taste.
Japanese one pot meals have many health benefits. The food is cooked in stock, so there are no added fats or oils to the foods, keeping the meal light and fresh. Cooking the fresh vegetables for a brief time at the table allows them to retain most of their nutritional benefits. Consuming a liquid based meal helps prevent you from overeating and filling yourself with unnecessary calories. Along the same lines as the liquid, the act of cooking and eating the meal at the table forces you to slow down your rate of eating, this allows your body time to more accurately signal when it is full. Lastly, the communal nature of the meal provides a strong sense of togetherness, which is good for our emotional health as well.