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Making Shabu Shabu Broth and Dipping Sauces

World renowned Sukiyaki is the most famous Japanese hotpot, but in Japan, Shabu-Shabu is just as popular. The ingredients are similar, and the preparation method is the same wherein you cook meat and vegetables in a liquid (Shabu Shabu Meats and Vegtables Ingredients list). If you’ve made salty-sweet sukiyaki countless of times, why not try shabu-shabu with its own broth and two different kinds of dipping sauces?

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Shabu Shabu Broth

The base of shabu-shabu broth is dashi stock, but some restaurants use boiling water. To make the broth,  add 7 tablespoons of sake and half a teaspoon of salt to the dashi and boil. Once your broth boils, you can start cooking by dipping your meat and vegetables in the broth in a back and forth motion. 

Shabu Shabu Land ^^~ by debbietingzon
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License by debbietingzon - Shabu Shabu with variety of ingredients

While it may not sound like it at all, the term "shabu shabu" refers to the swishing sound of cooking the ingredients in the broth.  The broth may seem Bland to some, but wait until you taste the sauces.

Iberico pork shabu-shabu by bvalium
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License by bvalium - Shabu Shabu Broth

Shabu Shabu Sesame Seed Sauce

Once your meat or vegetable is cooked, dip it in either goma tare or ponzu - the two traditional Shabu Shabu Sauces. Goma tare (literally “sesame seed sauce”) is rich-tasting with a color and consistency lighter and thinner than peanut butter. Each household has its own recipe, but the basic ingredients are the same.

  1. Lightly toast 5 tablespoons of white sesame seeds in a frying pan.
  2. The seeds are then ground up in a suribachi, or Japanese mortar and pestle.  (An ordinary mortar and pestle or a food processor will not yield a paste so if you do not have a suribachi, you can buy ready-made sesame seed paste called neri goma)
  3. To the paste, add a tiny amount of grated garlic, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and some dashi until the paste becomes watery. 
  4. To this basic sauce you can add miso, lemon juice, mirin and sugar to your liking. 

Dipping sauces and sesame seed mortar & by irrational_cat
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License by irrational_cat - Sauces & Japanese Mortar for grinding

Shabu Shabu Ponzu Sauce

The tang of ponzu is a wonderful contrast to the richness of the goma tare. You can find ponzu in Asian stores, but it’s easy to make.

  1. Soak konbu and bonito fish flakes in 7 parts soy sauce, 2.5 parts citrus juice (ideally yuzu), 2.5 parts vinegar and 3 parts mirin for a day.
  2. Remove the konbu and bonito and the sauce is ready to serve. 

This dipping sauce is very refreshing and has a nice gentle aftertastes.

sauce 3 times by George Arriola
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License by George Arriola 1. Ponzu Sauce 2. Garlic 3. Sesame Seed Sauce

Other Sauces / Condiments

Unlike sukiyaki, shabu shabu is more flexible when it comes to sauces because you can add or subtract ingredients, or even make your own sauce. Other options include pickled plum sauces, fiery sauces with spicy oils and even mayonnaise-based sauces.

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