Japanese Vegetable Seafood Hot Pot – Nabemono

This dish is more of a method than a recipe. Basically it involves preparing an assortment of meats, seafood, vegetables, noodles, tofu, etc, and cooking them in broth. The actual cooking time is very short and aside from selecting and cutting the ingredients, it almost makes itself.


The first step is to make the broth. The basic broth takes minimal effort and is made by steeping seaweed and fish flakes in water. I guess I should mention that you should begin this endeavor with a trip to an Asian market where you can get the necessary but not-always-easy-to-find-in-regular-grocery-store ingredients which are as follows:

  • Benito flakes (fish flakes)
  • Kombu / kelp (seaweed)
  • Sake (rice wine)
  • Seasoned rice vinegar
  • Mirin (sweet cooking sake)
  • Shiritaki noodles (zero calorie) or mung bean threads (cellophane noodles)
  • Some nice mushrooms like shitake, enoki, or oyster. (Figure a 2-3 mushrooms per person plus some enoki)
  • Napa cabbage
  • Organic tofu
  • Other items you will need are fish and seafood (see below), green onion, carrot, and sweet onion but these can be found anywhere.

This is an easy broth to make. It’s more like making tea than like making chicken or beef stock.

How to make the broth:Kombu & Benito flakes

  1. Rinse 3 oz Kombu in cold water.
  2. Place kombu in a pot with 5-6 cups of water.
  3. Simmer over a low to medium heat for about 10 minutes.
  4. Just before the water comes to a boil remove the kombu.
  5. Add 1/2 cup benito flakes and let steep for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Strain out bonito flakes.

Then add:

  • 1/4 cup sake
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • a few drops of soy sauce for saltiness (to taste)

While your broth is steeping, you’ll have time to cut up all of the other ingredients. There are no exact measurements here, but I will give approximate amounts that you can adjust according to your preferences. This will serve 4 people.

  • 1/2 pound  fresh fish such as cod, rock fish, salmon, halibut, or whatever you prefer, cut into large chunks
  • 1/2 pound shrimp, cleaned, but not peeled
  • 1 pound clam or mussels, washed
  • 8 oz tofu (1/2 package), cut into 1/2 slices
  • 1 medium sweet onion, cut into 1/2 inch moons
  • 1 package shiritaki noodles, blanched and rinsed (these are the zero calorie noodles)
  • 8-12 shitaki mushrooms, stems removed (mushrooms can be left whole unless they are very large)
  • 1 package enoki mushrooms rinsed, root ends removed
  • 1/2 head Napa cabbage cut into large pieces
  • 1 carrot, slices into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1-2 bunches green onions, cleaned and cut into 3 inch lengths, thick pieces cut in half the long way

Nabemono, arrangedArrange all of the ingredients neatly in a shallow pot large enough to hold everything. Pour the broth gently over the arrangement so as not to disturb the items, reserving 1/2 cup for ponzu sauce. Place pot on stove and bring to a boil. boil gently for 5-10 minutes until the clams are just opening up. Do not stir.

Bring the pot to the table. Serve with rice and Ponzu sauce for dipping.


Ponzu Sauce:

  • Juice of one lemon and one lime, more to tastePonzu sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons  cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup good-quality soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Sake
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup dashi broth
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion
  • dash of cayenne


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