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Cooking with AllHome: Shabu-Shabu

May 24, 2022

Cooking with AllHome: Shabu-Shabu

Here’s a simple guide on how to make a DIY Shabu-Shabu at home and learn more about this unique dining experience… 


When you think about Japanese dishes, some people will always think of sushi and tempura, first. Then, the ramens and bento boxes. Most of the time, shabu-shabu may not even make the cut. 

But what exactly is a shabu-shabu? 

Shabu-shabu is a popular Japanese-style hot pot or nabemono, where the paper-thin slices of tender meat and assorted fresh vegetables are cooked in a flavorful broth with different dipping sauces adding flavor to the ingredients.

Preparing and eating shabu-shabu is an intimate yet casual experience as everyone at the table gets to take part in the cooking. The best thing about it is that everyone gets to enjoy and customize the ingredients to one’s own taste and preference. Some could choose to indulge in a decadent A5-ranked wagyu beef while others can have a healthy vegetarian spread full of fresh produce. 

Shabu-shabu’s origin was in Osaka during the 1950s but has since spread all across Japan and even to other countries. 

Fun fact: Shabu-shabu got its name after the Japanese onomatopoeia for “swish, swish,” as each piece of meat is lightly swished around in boiling broth before eating.


Shabu-shabu Equipment:

To start with, you need to have a large Japanese pot called a nabe and a portable gas burner or a hot plate so you can cook your hot pot tableside. But if you choose to eat in a shabu-shabu specialty restaurant, they have their own induction heating cooktops built directly into their tables.

When dining, it is useful to have a ladle at your disposal so you can scoop out noodles, vegetables, and other hard-to-pick ingredients in your hotpot. It’s also important to have a small skimmer to remove the froth from the surface of the broth. 

It is also important to have your own bowls for dipping sauce and a pair of chopsticks. Cooking and serving chopsticks are also important to avoid offending someone at the table. It is considered rude to touch communal food with own’s personal chopsticks.


Main Ingredients in Shabu-Shabu



The most common meats used in shabu-shabu are beef and pork. Sometimes, others use chicken and lamb. For higher-end restaurants, they only serve expensive marbled beef such as A5 wagyu beef.

But the most important aspect of shabu-shabu meats is that whatever you choose, it has to be thinly sliced because it has to be cooked very quickly. As the name suggests, shabu-shabu meats and vegetables are cooked by being swished in the broth.



Another very popular ingredient for shabu-shabu is seafood. Some popular seafood options are tiger prawns, squids, and scallops.



Aside from meat and seafood, vegetables are just as important in shabu-shabu. They add umami-rich taste to the broth and they make a hotpot look much more appetizing as colorful embellishments, too. The most common vegetables used are Chinese cabbage or lettuce, chrysanthemum leaves, Japanese scallions, carrots, enoki, and shiitake mushrooms. 



Noodles such as udon and kishimen, which are similar to udon but flat like fettuccine, are popular partners to shabu-shabu. Some restaurants serve sticky rice cakes and cooked rice. Whichever starch you choose, make sure to put it in the broth as well. You can also add tofu if you want! 


Dipping Sauces:

The dipping sauce is an integral part of the Shabu-shabu experience. Most of them can be bought ready-made such as Ponzu sauce, Sesame sauce, or Chili Sauce. But if you can’t buy ready-made sauce here’s how to make some of them below:


Ponzu sauce for vegetables:

  • ½ cup Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
  • ¼ cup Fresh Orange Juice
  • 2 tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp Mirin or sweet rice wine
  • ⅛ tsp crushed red pepper


Sesame Sauce for meat:

  • 3 tbsp White Sesame Paste
  • 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • ⅔ tbsp Fish Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • ½ Garlic clove


Combine all ingredients in separate bowls. Cover and chill.


How to Eat Shabu-Shabu:

First, you have to set up all the equipment and ingredients you need. Set a portable gas burner before bringing the pot of the broth to the table. Once you start cooking, you have to make sure to cover the hotpo t to let the broth come to a boil. 

Once it starts to boil, reduce it to a simmer so you can start adding the ingredients. Add the vegetables first to the pot and let it cook briefly, this way the vegetables will add flavor to the broth. Keep in mind that the harder the vegetables, the longer time it will take to be cooked and the leafy ones tend to cook more quickly.

Next, add the meat and seafood. You can do this in two ways: First, by following the tradition of lightly swishing the pieces through the broth. Second, you can cook the meat by submerging them briefly in the broth.

Once the meat and vegetables are cooked, remove them from the pot and dip them into the various sauces you prepared. Ponzu dip is used for vegetables while sesame sauce can be used for meats, although there really is no strict rule with dippings as this can be varied according to one’s own personal tastes.

Shabu-shabu should be enjoyed like fondue. Try to cook and eat one or two bites at a time to fully enjoy this unique eating experience. Find the perfect combination of sauces to use as dip to your chosen ingredients, the perfect carb combo–whether it’s steamed white rice or udon noodles, and the perfect balance for you that will make you want to cook and eat some more. 



  • Try to keep the broth at a low boil to prevent overcooking.
  • Cook only enough meat or seafood at a time. Do not cook everything at once.  
  • Adding too many items to the hotpot can lower the temperature of the boiling broth and it might interrupt your cooking.


Ultimately, what makes Shabu-Shabu really special is that you can enjoy it with your friends, family, and loved ones. You won’t only have to share the food, you will also get to share meaningful conversations and fun memories with the special people in your life. Shabu-shabu is such a great communal experience that you certainly won’t forget when you try it for the very first time.


To start your DIY Shabu-Shabu adventure, visit AllHome for its wide selection of cooking ware, homeware, kitchenware, and more. You may also visit AllHome’s website, https://www.allhome.com.ph, or follow AllHome’s official Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/allhomeofficial  


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