When I was growing up, my folks would occasionally have sukiyaki and shabu shabu at home. With the bad weather this past weekend, my wife suggested it might be nice if we did a shabu shabu for dinner. This is what she had in mind:
But a shabu shabu isn’t complete without dipping sauces. I just took it for granted the raw egg/soy sauce dip for the sukiyaki was Japanese. But I always wondered where the peanut butter/soy sauce dip for shabu shabu originated. I recently ran across an Simply Ming episode with Chef Ming Tsai visiting Japan. In that episode, he was in Osaka having kobe/wagyu shabu shabu at Rakutaian. The episode showed the making of a peanut dipping sauce for the shabu shabu. At that point, I wanted to take a crack at making that sauce. Chef Tsai has graciously published that recipe on the webpage:
The original dipping sauce recipe made way too much for my wife and I, so I decided to rescale it as a microbatch version –
4 T peanut butter
6 T ground sesame paste
3/4t aka miso (red miso)
1 1/8 t doubanjiang (Chinese chili bean paste. strained)
1 1/8 t ketchup
3/4 t garlic (here I would grate it, Nobu Style)
1 T pickled red plum paste (umeboshi paste or bainiku)
2 t + 1/4 t dark soy sauce (koikuchi shoyu)
1 t + 1/8 t light soy sauce (usukuchi shoyu)
1 T + 1 t + 1/2 t mirin
This microbatch makes about 1 cup/8 oz of sauce (packed)
Final dipping mix:
1 T peanut mixture
1 T + 3/8 t chicken stock (to thin) <here I would uses konbu broth>
Now THAT was more manageable!
I recommend mixing
* the peanut butter + the tahini (ground sesame paste) in one container
* the aka (red) miso, strained doubanjang, ketchup, garlic, umeboshi paste in another container
* the soy sauces/mirin in a third container
I found it a pain in the neck trying to blend the ingredients in turn. I think it’d be easier to mix the three sections separately and then trying to
blend it all into the peanut butter/tahini mix.
In addition to all that, my wife and I decided to add shabu shabu pork belly to the mix. From Nobu West (p. 171), there’s a write up for Shabu Shabu With Iberian Pork. For that Nobu dish, a Jalapeno Ponzu was recommended as the dipping sauce. That sauce is equal parts of Jalapeno Dressing and Ponzu. So I made up a small patch of ponzu and a batch of Jalapeno dressing which I blended 3 tablespoons of ponzu and 3 tablespoons of the Jalapeno dressing. I portioned out the resulting sauce 3 tablespoons/dipping sauce cup.
My wife took charge of cooking the pork belly in the boiling konbu broth until the pieces were a completely opaque white. The write up in Nobu West on Shabu Shabu instructs that you dip the wafer thin slices of meat into the boiling soup/broth/stock and ‘swish’ the meat side to side in the liquid for (at least) 10 seconds.
The jalapeno ponzu paired well with the shabu shabu cooked pork belly slices. But surprisingly, the peanut dipping sauce also paired well with both the shabu shabu cooked wagyu and pork belly. For my wife, this was the first time for her to have a peanut butter dipping sauce. When she’s had shabu shabu back in Asia, the dipping sauce was soy sauce based, with interactively added flavors of chopped garlic, scallions, chilis and sa-cha sauce. The peanut butter dipping sauce surprised my wife. She was expecting a sweet note to the peanut butter (some popular commercial American peanut butter brands have added sugar). The peanut butter I used was the Whole Foods variety that had no added salt or sugar. All in all, it was a satisfying dinner for a cold wet night.
As I mentioned earlier, for actually doing a shabu shabu, Nobu West provides a shabu shabu recipe. The online recipe (and the sample ingredient list) can be found here. For those who don’t like pork, thinly sliced shabu shabu beef can be substituted.
I got the shabu shabu hot pot started by pouring in about 7 cups of konbu dashi (no bonito fish shavings) that I prepared on the stove.
Snake River Farms Wagyu, Shabu Shabu Style – HMart, Burlington, MA
Shabu Shabu Pork Belly – HMart, Burlington, MA
Tobanjang (Chili BEAN Sauce ) – Hong Kong Market, Allston, MA
Tahini – Whole Foods, Newtonville, MA
Eden Foods Umeboshi Paste – Whole Foods, Newtonville, MA