Nabemono (鍋物, なべ物, nabe cooking pot + mono things, stuff, kinds) or simply called nabe, is a term referring to all varieties of Japanese steamboat dishes, also known as one pot dishes.
The pots are traditionally made of clay (土鍋, donabe) which can keep warm for a while after being taken off the fire or cast thick iron (鉄鍋, tetsunabe) which evenly distributes heat and is preferable for sukiyaki. The pots are usually placed in the center of dining tables, shared by multiple people.
Most nabemono are stews and soups served during the colder seasons. In modern Japan, nabemono are kept hot at the dining table by portable stoves. The dish is frequently cooked at the table, and the diners can pick the cooked ingredients they want from the pot. It is either eaten with the broth or with a dip. Further ingredients can also be successively added to the pot.
Eating together from a shared pot is considered as an important feature of nabemono; East Asian people believe that eating from one pot makes for closer relationships. The Japanese thus say, Nabe (w)o kakomu (鍋を囲む、"sitting around the pot"), implying that sharing nabemono will create warm relations between the diners who eat together from the shared pot.
There are two types of nabemono in Japan; lightly flavored mostly with kombu
such as yudōfu
(湯豆腐) and mizutaki
(水炊き) and eaten with dipping (tare
) to enjoy the taste of the ingredients themselves, and deeply flavored typically with miso
, soy sauce
, and/or sweet soy such as yosenabe
(おでん), and sukiyaki
(すき焼き) and eaten without further flavoring.
- Yosenabe: is one of the most popular nabemono in Japan. Yose (寄) means putting together and ideally similar to German Eintopf, thus implies that all things (e.g., meat, seafood, egg, tofu and vegetables) are cooked together in a pot. Yosenabe is typically based on a broth made with miso or soy sauce flavourings.
- Chankonabe (ちゃんこ鍋): was originally served only to Sumo wrestlers. Chankonabe is served with more ingredients than other nabemono, as it was developed to help sumo wrestlers gain weight. Many recipes exist but usually contain meatballs, chicken, vegetables such as Chinese cabbage and udon
- Yudofu: a very simple dish of tofu simmered in a kombu stock and served with ponzu and various condiments.
- Sukiyaki: thinly sliced beef, tofu, vegetables and starch noodles stewed in sweetened soy and eaten with a raw egg dip.
- Shabu shabu: thinly sliced beef and other ingredients, eaten with a ponzu or sesame dip.
- Motsunabe (もつ鍋): made with beef or pork offal, originally a local cuisine of Fukuoka but popularised nationwide in the 1990s because of its taste and reasonable price. The ingredients of motsunabe vary from restaurant to restaurant, but typical is to boil the fresh cow offal with cabbage and garlic chives. After having offal and vegetables, the rest of soup is used to cook champon noodles. The soup base are mainly soy sauce or miso.
There are wide varieties of regional nabemono in Japan, which contain regional specialty foods such as salmon
. Here are a few examples:
- Tōhoku Region
- Kiritampo-nabe: Kiritampo (pounded rice, skewered and grilled) stewed in broth with chicken, burdock, Japanese parsley, negi, thin konnyaku. Specialty of Akita Prefecture.
- Kantō region
- Houtou-nabe: a specialty of Yamanashi. Hōtō (a type of udon) stewed in miso with kabocha squash, Chinese cabbage, carrot, taro and the like.
- Chūetsu region
- Momiji-nabe (venison-nabe). Typical ingredients: venison, burdock, shiitake mushroom, negi, konnyaku, tofu, green vegetables, stewed in a miso-based broth.
- Kansai region
- Udon-suki: udon stewed in broth with various ingredients.
- Chūgoku region
- Fugu-chiri: Slices of fugu stewed in dashi with leafy vegetables such as shungiku and Chinese cabbage, and eaten with a ponzu dip.
- Dote-nabe: Oyster and other ingredients (typically Chinese cabbage, tofu and shungiku stewed in a pot with its inner lining coated in miso.
- Shikoku region
- Benkei no na jiru: (na means green vegetables, and jiru means soup). The ingredients: duck, wild boar, chicken, beef, pork, daikon radish, carrot, mizuna (a kind of Chinese cabbage), hiru (a kind of shallot), and dumplings made from buckwheat and rice
- Kyūshū region
- Mizutaki. Chicken pieces and vegetables stewed in a simple stock, and eaten with dipping sauce such as ponzu. Ingredients include tofu, burdock, shiitake mushroom, bean-starch vermicelli, egg, and negi.
Nabemono are usually eaten with a sauce sometimes called tare
, literally "dipping". Several kinds of sauce can be used with additional spices, called yakumi. Typical yakumi include grated garlic, butter, red pepper, a mixture of red pepper and other spices, roasted sesame, or momiji oroshi
(a mixture of grated daikon
radish and red pepper).
- Ponzu: The common pon-zu is made of soy sauce and juice pressed from a bitter orange, sweet sake, and kombu (kelp) stock.
- Gomadare (sesame sauce): Sesame sauce is usually made from ground sesame, soy sauce, kelp stock, sake and sugar.
- Beaten raw egg. The egg cooks due to the hot ingredients added to it.