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Yosenabe: Japan’s winter comfort food


Every country has its own winter food to enjoy, specially cooked to warm our bodies. In Japan, one of the most popular food to enjoy is “nabe”. Actually, it’s a wide variety of dishes known as nabemono. Nabe means pot and mono means things or stuff. It is an arrangement of different kinds of meat, assorted vegetables, and different kinds of broth. It includes popular dishes such as oden, sukiyaki, shabu shabu, yudofu and etc.


Seafood nabe. Image by lnain336 from Pixabay

I will introduce you to “Yosenabe”, the most basic kind of nabe you can try at home. It is easy to prepare and a great party food. Basically, there are no rules when making yosenabe. The main ingredients are vegetables, any kind of meat, seafood, and tofu. Then cut the vegetables and meat thinly, arrange them neatly into the pot, and simmer! It is mostly done at the dinner table with a portable gas burner where you can enjoy yourself with family and friends. An absolute remedy to combat cold weather.


Donabe and portable gas burner

  • Donabe Pot– is an ideal pot for yosenabe. It is made of heavy ceramic to distribute and retain heat specially designed to cook hot pot dishes. The ideal size for the pot is 30cm (12 inches) to serve about 2-6 persons. You can easily purchase this pot in Japanese or Asian stores or on Amazon.
  • Portable Butane Stove and Butane Gas Canisters– You need a portable gas burner for cooking hotpot dishes. It creates a communal dining experience and everybody can partake in the cooking over an open flame.
  • Measuring cups- used to measure liquid ingredients
  • Measuring spoons
  • Weighing scale
  • Soup ladles to scoop the broth
  •  Slotted ladles to take out the cooked vegetables and meat from the pot
  • Long chopsticks
  • Tongs
  • Individual bowls and chopsticks for everyone.


Ingredients (4servings)

-300grams of any kind of meat (thinly sliced), or seafoods
-1/8 of hakusai (Chinese cabbage)
-1 leek
-Shimeji and enoki mushrooms
-1 carrot
-200grams of tofu
-Chicken meatballs or fishballs (optional)
-1000ml of water
-Kelp (can be substituted with any kind of broth)
-50ml of sake
-50ml of mirin
-2 tablespoons of soy sauce
– salt to taste


1: Put water and kelp together into the pot and leave it for at least 30minutes.

2: Cut the leeks and Chinese cabbage into 5cm wide pieces.
Cut the carrot thinly into your favorite design. Cut the mushrooms and tofu into bite-size pieces.

3: Boil the pot after taking out the kelp.

4: Add sake,  mirin, soy sauce, salt and make dashi soup.

5: Add meatballs and meat slices first. After they are heated well, add vegetables and arrange them into groups according to your liking.

6: Simmer after a few minutes and it’s ready to eat.


Green tea. Photo by Irene Ivantsova on Unsplash

Every dish is not complete without a drink. Yosenabe is best paired with foamy beer or sake. For non-alcoholic drinks, a cup of hot green tea or hojicha goes well with nabemono.

Hope you like this recipe and if you’re a fan of hot pots, you can eat this food all year round!


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