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Japanese Hot Pot Dishes

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Winter in Japan is getting colder every year. I was able to experience an unexpected heavy snowfall for the first time here in Okayama around this time last year. Eight centimeters of piled-up snow might not be that much compared to other areas but in Okayama it’s a first time in a couple of decades. Speaking of winter in Japan, one thing to look forward to is having hot pot dishes. I think it’s just an absolute necessity during this cold weather. Japanese hot pot dishes are called “nabemono” in general.

Different Types of Japanese Hot Pot Dishes

There is a wide variety of Japanese hot pot dishes and there’s always something new coming up every year. According to Kibun Foods website, Japanese hot pot can be mainly grouped into three depending on its broth – boiled in water, light flavor and rich flavor.

Type 1: Boiled in water

As the name suggests, ingredients are boiled in water or dashi (Japanese soup stock). Usually, you take portions and put into your own serving bowl and then dip into sauce of your preference.

Chiri-nabe and mizutaki are examples of this type. Chiri-nabe is a Japanese hot pot where fish is boiled in water together with tofu and vegetables, and then dipped in ponzu sauce (combination of soy sauce and citrus juice) before eating.

Japanese hot pot: Mizutaki (boiling water/broth)Mizutaki (Photo credit: Ryosuke Hosoi)

On the other hand, mizutaki refers to a hot pot dish where chicken meat is boiled in dashi. Although mizutaki is widely known throughout Japan, it actually originated as a local cuisine of Fukuoka by the name “Hakata-ni”.

Type 2: Light flavor

Hot pot dishes like oden and yose-nabe. The ingredients are cooked and eaten together with it’s lightly flavored broth. Most of the Japanese hot pot dishes belong to this group.

Japanese hot pot: konbini odenKonbini oden (from left: cabbage roll, daikon (raddish), hard boiled egg, ganmodoki or ganmo)
(Photo credit: Ippei Ogiwara)

Oden is one of the popular Japanese hot pot dishes and you can even buy it at convenience stores as mentioned in our post here. Convenience stores start selling oden from autumn throughout winter. There are many toppings to choose from and you can even ask the staff to add more soup if you like. They will ask you to choose a sauce in sachet for extra flavoring like miso, karashi (Japanese mustard), etc. Of course, the soup itself is already tasty enough.

Type 3: Rich flavor

Japanese hot pot dishes with small amount but rich flavor broth such as sukiyaki.

Japanese hot pot: SukiyakiSukiyaki. Now, I’m hungry.
(Photo credit: ajari)

The Most Favorite and The Most Frequently Consumed Hot Pot Dishes in Japan

According to survey conducted by Asahi Holdings last January, oden is on top of the list of favorite hot pot dishes while kimchi-nabe is the most frequently consumed.

The ingredients of oden are simmered slowly in dashi allowing the flavor to completely seep into it.  Simple but very tasty – one of the reasons many of the participants chose oden as their favorite. I strongly agree to that, even a big chunk of daikon (raddish) can be so tasty. You should try it when you get the chance to visit Japan during its season.

On the other hand, kimchi-nabe is chosen as the most frequently consumed hot pot dish because it is easy to prepare. You can use mostly any vegetables and meat available in your kitchen, mix it up with kimchi and it’s good to go. Also, its spicy flavor increases appetite and a perfect match for alcohol as many of the participants answered.

The survey is participated by more than 3,500 people, both men and women, of ages 20 and above. Here is the link to see the rest of the ranking, in Japanese text though.

References:
Nabemono-related survey – Asahi Holdings
Varities of Nabemono – Kibun Foods

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ren

A gaijin in Okayama who enjoys viewing cherry blossom in spring, fireworks in summer, eating grilled sanma (Pacific saury fish) in autumn and oden in winter.

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