How to Make a Japanese Style Hotpot (Nabe)

January 03, 2016

The weather is cold, the nights are getting darker, and every evening you're driving home in the rain, dreaming of hot food waiting for you when you return. 

Well, now your dreams can come true because we're going to teach you a little about the cooking style of nabe! 'Nabe' in Japanese translates to 'pot', and that's just what nabe cooking style is; cooking things in a pot! The pot is placed in the centre of the table, on top of a portable gas stove, and all guests are invited to help themselves from the communal pot.

There is no one 'nabe' recipe, as the word just refers to the style of cuisine, but there are popular recipes. Generally, the things they have in common are that they start with a soup base, usually made of dashi, which you can then add thinly sliced meat, veggies, tofu and sometimes even noodles and rice to.

With the pot being consistently hot on the portable stove, you can eat all the veggies and meat, then top the soup up with fresh veggies and meat, cook it again and enjoy the nabe some more!

A basic nabe starts with dashi, soy sauce and miso, but those made with curry are great too! Feel free to experiment with all sorts of ingredients to make your own nabe. Nabe made from whatever you have in the cupboards is called Yosenabe!

Here's a basic nabe recipe though if you're not feeling too creative:


  • 2 Packs of Udon Noodles
  • 1/2 A White Cabbage
  • 1 Spring Onion
  • A handful of Enoki Mushrooms
  • 5-8 Shiitake Mushrooms
  • 250g Firm Tofu
  • 1 Pound Very Thinly Sliced Marbled Beef
  • 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 Cup of Dashi Stock
  • 1 Cup Sake
  • 1 Cup Mirin
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Cup Soy Sauce

First create your sauce base by combining the sake, mirin, sugar and soy sauce in a saucepan.

Now cut all the veggies and tofu into bitesize pieces, you can cut them decoratively if you like.

Now fry off the beef in a little oil. When it's starting to cook, pour a little of the sauce on it to flavour it.

Now place all your ingredients in your nabe pot on the portable stove. Place them attractively - this is supposed to be a centrepiece after all!

Pour on the rest of the sauce and thin it with the dashi stock. Bring the pot to a simmer and wait until everything is cooked through.

Serve your sukiyaki with udon. You can even cook the udon in the sukiyaki broth!

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