Sunday, December 21, 2008

Shabu Shabu in Kobe

Shabu shabu is another nabe dish made by taking paper thin slices of beef and dipping them into a pot of boiling water or broth for just a few seconds to cook. More on the food in a second. Let me first describe my Thursday in Kobe. This is a wonderful city just west of Osaka. Kobe Pharmaceutical University sits on the hillside looking down upon Kobe's numerous narrow winding streets. This picture shows one of their WIDE streets! Imagine a street as wide as one car twisting and turning through densly packed homes up the side of a hill. Their big taxis climb those hills every day.

In the morning my host Naito Sensei took me to the Hatsukura sake factory for a tour of their sake museum. There I learned all about how rice is polished, infused with koji spores to convert starch to sugar, and then fermented with yeast. Of course we left with a taste and a bottle!

Dinner that evening was a slighly formal shabu shabu dinner. We ate at a traditional low table on the tatami mats. Actually there was a hole under the table for your feet so you didn't have to sit cross legged for hours. See the nabe pots ready for action?

This sake is made especially for this restaurant. I have to say it was quite good.

We started with a small appetizer of marinated raw fugu. I would call it a Japanese seviche with its vinegary marinade.

This is onion, garlic, radish and chives to garnish the dipping sauces for the shabu shabu.

A sashimi course, of course!

A bite of crab, seaweed and cucumbers.

This is a bit of fried monkfish. The chili was not very spicy. I've never seen a pink batter before. Very festive for the holiday season.

Our sever brought the plates of beef and vegetables.

I am always in awe of the wonderfully marbled beef. Makes for tender shabu shabu.

Our server demonstrated the shabu shabu technique. Grasp the beef slice with your chopsticks and swish it back and forth in the boiling pot for just a few seconds. The dish is names shabu shabu after the sound of the beef swishing in the broth.

The flash cooked beef is immediately plunged into a bowl containing a sesame sauce and eaten.

After the meat is eaten, next come the vegetables. Here you can see tofu, enoki mushrooms, green onions, bean sprouts, mushrooms, carrots, some greens and napa cabbage. The noodles are for the end of the meal.

The veggies cooking away.

We had two kinds of noodles - the clear ones you see served with the vegetables above and these wider noodles that were brought to the table after the vegetables. Also in the pot are some sticky rice cakes cooked along with the noodles.

A perfect end for a wonderul meal - a bowl of macha green tea ice cream. I like the fact that this ice cream is not as sweet as our American versions.

No comments: