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~All About Chinese Hotpot & Japanese Shabu Shabu~

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d22086b2970cFrom my American foodie's vantage point, I found hot pot and shabu shabu to be more alike than different.  A literal hot pot of mild- to spicily-seasoned, simmering, meat- or vegetable-based broth is placed in the center of the communal table. Depending on the country and region of the country, an array of thinly-sliced meats, vegetables, dumplings or noodles and dipping sauces are positioned around the pot.  Via a pair of chop sticks, each person picks up and cooks their food by gently bathing it in the simmering broth.  The words "shabu shabu"  mean "swish swish", and, double-dipping (using the same pair of chopsticks to cook and eat) is common practice.

What are the differences between the two?  The obvious one is the flavor profile.  Hot pot is full of Chinese flavors and shabu shabu is full of seasonings common to Japan.  That said, I found the actual dining experience to be the biggest difference.  In China, hot pot was a casual, inexpensive, family-style meal.  In Japan, shabu shabu was a dress-up, expensive, special-occasion feast.  While I adored the spicy, slightly-chewy Szechuan beef version in China, the more subtle, melt-in-my-mouth kobe beef version in Japan absolutely blew me away.

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d220bf38970cDon't have a fancy hot pot?  A fondue pot or electric skillet will do.

While I love my copper hot pot, nowadays, it's mostly a showy conversation piece in my kitchen.

6a0120a8551282970b01bb093a6ab8970dIt's a pretty prop to have on-hand to explain the ancient-Asian history behind this modern-day now-retro method of cooking, which is more-often-than-not singularly associated with the famous French and Swiss cheese fondue.  That said, when I'm serving any type of fondue (savory meat, poultry or seafood, creamy cheese or sweet chocolate), 6a0120a8551282970b01bb093a6ac4970dor throwing a fondue party, like everyone else in America today, I use my much easier-to-clean sterno-driven pots.  I have a few small electric fondue pots too, which come in handy for all sorts of other culinary purposes (like keeping sauces and gravies at the perfect temperature).

6a0120a8551282970b01bb086c5071970dThere's more than one way to cook a very-thinly-sliced steak to perfection and "a la" ("in the style of") Chinese "hot pot" or Japanese "shabu shabu" ("Asian fondue") is a method that doesn't occur to most American cooks.  It wouldn't have occurred to me either if I hadn't eaten hot pot in China and shabu shabu in Japan.  Joe and I enjoyed both of these encounters so much, he arranged to have a copper hot pot shipped from China to my American Happy Valley kitchen.

In the case of the following crowd-pleasing recipe, which technically is a type of hot pot, shabu shabu or fondue, I prefer to use my electric skillet, which controls the heat perfectly.  Why?  My family or guests won't be cooking their own food.  I'm cooking the steak all at once, for a mere 1-1 1/2 minutes, then heaping it onto some soft, slider-sized dinner rolls to serve to them.

Try my ~ Asian Hot-Pot-Style Steak Sliders w/Broccoli Slaw ~:

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d221395d970c"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2022)


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