Nabe Gatherings

As I’m sure you’re already aware, it’s nabe season here in Japan. Grocery store end-displays are currently featuring a wide array of “ready to go” nabe packs – from soymilk to kimchi, the broths vary immensely. Although I’m not so fond of the “open the package and pour it in” style of nabe, I’m determined to try as many variations on the one pot meal as possible. Thus far, I’ve enjoyed: tonyu nabe (soymilk), kimchi (korean-style spicy) nabe, ponzu nabe, and miso nabe. Ingredients include every imaginable in-season vegetable, a plethora of mushrooms, and, of course, a variety of meats and fish.

These particular photos are from a nabe party I hosted for Gogawadaiko members before one of our weekly practices. I prepared the broth for tonyu nabe and purchased a package of kimchi nabe broth.  Ingredients included: nikudango (meat balls), shiitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, enringi mushrooms, shimeji mushrooms, green onion, daikon, agedofu (fried tofu), konyaku (devil’s tongue), bean sprouts, carrots…

And of course, dessert: ohagi (mochi covered in anko), fresh strawberries, and mochi icecream.

The most delicious part of the evening was preparing the tonyu nabe broth. When first heating the soymilk, a thin film, called yuba, is formed on the surface of the liquid. This film is then removed and eaten as a sort of “soybean sashimi” with a touch of shouyu.

My favorite aspect of eating nabe is its cozy, communal nature. Everyone huddled together around a warm kotatsu (heated, quilt-covered table), dipping their chopsticks into the same nabe pot to fill their bowls…nothing could be better during the Japanese winter.

Although traditionally you would throw a handful of udon noodles into the nabe pot after all of the ingredients have been consumed to soak up the remaining broth, we were far too full to consider a second course. I reserved the broth and made nabe again the next day for lunch.

And I discovered just how many dishes one can generate in making a couple batches of nabe

…but there’s no doubt it’s worth it.

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