The first time I heard about shabu-shabu, also known as a Japanese hot pot dish, was through my mom when I was back home in Southern California. She took me to a new shabu-shabu restaurant that opened up close to home, and I thought it was a strange concept to boil your food in broth rather grilling, pan-frying, or baking. Once I had my first shabu-shabu experience, however, I knew I needed to share my experience with my friends.

At first glance, some people might think it would be a hassle to make shabu-shabu at home since it does require quite a few ingredients. But the brilliant thing about making shabu-shabu at home is that you can customize it to your liking, whether it's the broth, ingredients, or overall experience, and it doesn't take long for your food to cook. 

Necessary Cookware

tea, cream, milk, espresso, coffee
Whitney Lauren Han

When it comes to shabu-shabu, I knew I needed to get myself a real hot pot pan to use, or else it wouldn't feel very authentic. Thankfully, the pot came with its own ladles that were extremely handy when scooping out the steaming contents to eat. I bought this particular pan from my local, mini Asian grocery store in case some of my friends had specific food preferences (vegetarian, gluten-free, etc.), which luckily, they didn't.

Ingredients I Used

pasta, vegetable
Whitney Lauren Han

The cool thing about shabu-shabu is that you can customize it to fit your specific food preferences, especially if you're a vegetarian. With my version of shabu-shabu, I went the more traditional route and used thinly sliced meats (beef and pork), tofu, enoki mushrooms (long, skinny white mushrooms), shiitake mushrooms, narutomaki (Japanese fish cake with the pink swirl), udon noodles, ramen noodles, napa cabbage, bok-choy, and carrots. I also bought ponzu sauce and rice vinegar as dipping sauces.

Making the Broth

chicken, vegetable, broth, soup
Whitney Lauren Han

From what I've researched, many of the sites I saw with shabu-shabu broth recipes mentioned one main ingredient, called kombu. So I bought a packet of this dried seaweed and let it soak in the water for about 15-20 minutes as directed. Since it didn't give it as much flavor as I was hoping, I kind of cheated and used some chicken broth I had on hand as well. To amp up the broth even more, I added some minced garlic, sesame oil, and soy sauce.

Boiling The Ingredients

ramen, fish, vegetable, seafood, pho, soup
Whitney Lauren Han

After the broth was made and boiled for a bit, I removed the kombu and added the carrots, napa cabbage, and boy-choy since they take the longest to cook. Then I added the shiitake mushrooms soon after (this also enhances the broth flavor). With the hot pot pan having two separate sections, one side cooked the thin beef slices and one side cooked the thin pork slices. After the meats came the narutomaki, tofu, and noodles since these take the shortest amount of time to cook.

#SpoonTip: If you want to save the broth for leftovers, take out the ingredients left in the pot that have starch, like udon noodles and ramen noodles, to prevent the broth from thickening overnight.


Hollie Conger

After everything was put into the pot and cooked throughly (especially the meats), I scooped out a serving for myself and for my friends since eating shabu-shabu with others is better than alone. Judging from everyone's food coma and empty bowls at the end of the night, my shabu-shabu was a hit.

While my version of shabu-shabu wasn't the same quality as one would get in a shabu-shabu restaurant, it was still just as filling and delicious. There was a bunch of leftovers which allowed me to eat this again for the next couple of days and I had no problems doing so.

The next time you want to make dinner plans with your friends or family, I suggest throwing yourself a shabu-shabu dinner night because what better way to bring people together than a giant hot pot to feed them all?