LWIF EP35: What Japanese Dinner is Like (Nabe)

Nabe (鍋物) is simply the name of the dish (cooking pot), so when you have nabe, there really could be anything in it. If you’re from a country that has stews and soups in the winter time, this is the Japanese equivalent.

Since nabe is such a general term, you can have many different types of nabe. Meals like sukiyaki and oden fall under this blanket term. With the nabe we made in the video, we cooked as we ate, so you’ll notice that kept on adding ingredients over the course of the meal. This is different than how our family would make soup or stew in Canada, as we would cook all the ingredients all at once.

The broth (dashi) was simply made by putting konbu (kelp) in cold water and then boiling it. Some families will take the konbu out after the water boils, as it can make the broth taste a bit fishy. Our family just left it in and ate the konbu when it became soft. Additionally, our family didn’t put any bonito flakes (fish) into the broth, but it is common to pair up konbu and bonito when making Japanese broths.

Cooking nabe was very simply. After we had the broth, we added whatever ingredients we liked into it. To give the meal some extra flavour, we poured yuzu-pon (a citrus-y soy sauce) into dishes and then dipped the food in it before eating.

You may noticed we broiled saba (mackerel), had rice, oshinko, and udon noodles as part of the meal as well. These are not necessarily part of a typical nabe dish, but our family tends to always have these little side dishes added to a meal, no matter what we’re eating. This is really weird to me, as my British influenced family in Canada usually ate one dish meals. Unless we were celebrating a special celebration, we wouldn’t have a lot of different dishes.

If there is any leftover nabe at the end of the day, it is common to add rice to the leftovers and make a porridge out of it.

One last thing, even though we said rice is part of every Japanese meal, this is not really true and is a bit of a joke in our family. It’s very weird for us to not have some rice in our rice cooker. If we somehow run out of cooked rice and have no more grains left to make some more, mummy starts to panic.

What’s the equivalent of nabe like where you’re from?