What is Shabu Shabu?

shabu shabuHot pot dishes are a staple food in Japan during the cold winter months, and shabu shabu is the one of the most popular ones eaten at both home and at restaurants. The difference between shabu shabu and other hot pot dishes, such as oden or sukiyaki, is that oden broth is seasoned with soy sauce, kombu kelp, and mirin (sweet cooking sake) and sukiyaki broth is much sweeter and seasoned with soy sauce and sugar.

ShabuShabu_eyecatchc(ac)Shabu shabu has a clear broth, seasoned only with kombu kelp, so it has very little flavor. Instead, the flavor comes from the dipping sauce that comes with this meal. There are many ways to eat shabu shabu, but all include placing the raw items into the pot to cook. A shabu shabu connoisseur will cook the meat first so the meat juices mix with the broth and then add the vegetable and tofu. The most important, and satisfying, part about shabu shabu is the paper thin meat slices that you cook one at a time. How do you do that? In Japan, we use chopsticks for eating and cooking, so you would hold a slice of your meat such as beef, and swish it in the simmering broth couple of times. If you use chicken or pork, you will need to cook it a little longer and allow it to soak in the hot broth. The name of this dish, shabu shabu, is the sound of swishing sliced meats in Japanese. Shabu shabu is a really nutritious meal and you can eat as many vegetables as different kinds of protein as you desire.

Chinese Hot Pot

火鍋 (Chinese Hot Pot)

Hot pots are popular in Asian countries where dining customs encourage socializing while gathered around the pot. China has their hot pot which originates from the 7th century and Thailand has the Thai Suki. Shabu shabu is the Japanese version, and everyone shares a central hot pot but you have your own dipping sauces so that you can customize whatever the flavor to your tastes. The most popular dipping sauce is the sesame sauce which is a soy based sauce with sesame or tahini in it. Ponzu sauce is also popular and is a soy based sauce with citrus in it. Just one note, if you do go to a restaurant and order shabu shabu most of the hot pot places are DIY (dip it yourself) style, meaning you are served raw ingredients that you cook in the community hot pot yourself. Don’t drink up the broth like a soup, this is strictly for cooking your vegetables and meats!

How to cook Shabu Shabu? (Shabu Shabu Recipe)

When you crave something hearty and warm on a cold winter day, this shabu shabu recipe with pork meat balls will keep you warm and satisfied!

Pork Shabu Shabu Recipe

*This is for illustrative purpose.

*This is for illustrative purpose.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 11 oz. sliced shabu shabu pork

Pork balls

  • 11 oz. ground pork
  • 1/4 onion
  • 1 tsp. miso
  • 1 tsp. potato starch
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. sake (cooking sake)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 medium firm tofu
  • 1 green firm tofu
  • 1 green onion
  • 1 pack of enoki mushrooms
  • 1 bunch mizuna
  • 2-4/5 cups bonito stock

Ponzu sauce

  • 2/5 cup soy sauce
  • 1/5 cup sudachi juice


  • Spring onion, shredded daikon with red chill, etc.

Cooking Directions

  1. Mix ground pork with chopped onion, miso, potato starch, salt, sake and sugar.
  2. Cut all other ingredients into appropriate sizes and transfer onto a plate.
  3. Put bonito stock and tofu into a pot, and bring to a boil. Gradually add other ingredients into the boiling stock.


  • Shabu shabu meat is more thinly sliced than sukiyaki meat, so it cooks almost instantly. If you’re using SPF pork, the meat can be eaten semi-raw. To make pork balls, shape the ground pork mixture into small balls using a spoon and place them in the pot.
  • One just can’t get enough of this healthy, light hot pot with pork balls.

Recipe by: Gochiso Magazine, Nijiya Market

Shabu Shabu Dipping Sauces

The fun part of shabu shabu is everyone gets their own tare, or dipping sauce. You can even have two sauces if you like. Here are some of the tare (dipping sauce) brands you can find in your local Asian supermarket. These sauces are also great for salad dressings, for dipping veggie sticks, or for seasoning your meats and poultries.

Mizkan Citrus Soy Pon Shabu Sauce

citrus-soy-pon-shabu-bottle-lgMizkan is one of the leading food manufacturing companies that specializes vinegar and sauces, so obviously they know what they’re doing. This is the ponzu sauce that has a citrus flavor. Any Japanese home will have a ponzu sauce in their refrigerator, and it is great for people who prefer a lighter flavor.
Product Info & Photo Credit:

Mizkan Sesame Goma Shabu Sauce

sesame-goma-shabu-bottle-lgGoma means sesame and tare means sauce. Mizkan Shabu Shabu Goma Tare is Mizkan’s other top seller shabu shabu sauce which is sesame based. Goma dare has the hearty fragrance of roasted sesame and it goes really well with both meats and veggies.
Product Info & Photo Credit:

Ebara Shabu Shabu Dipping Sauce(Sesame Sauce)

ebara_shabu-shabu-no-tareEbara is another food manufacturing company specializing in sauces. Their shabu shabu goma dare, or tare, is a sesame based sauce that is slightly sweet and of course great for shabu shabu, but also as dipping sauce for veggie sticks or steamed vegetables.
Product Info & Photo Credit:

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  1. David

    Shabu shabu is fun to cook as a group because everyone gets to participate in the cooking and they get to cook the food to the degree they want.; it is easy and delicious and if you do vegetables with the meat it is healthy.

  2. Cora

    Shabu shabu is a great social experience when cooking with friends, and is easy to make at home, while also very fun to eat at a restaurant.

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