When we think of Kobe beef, we probably first think of steaks and then maybe we think of hamburgers. That’s how beef is eaten in the West, and thicker and bigger is better. That’s not how Kobe beef was traditionally eaten in Japan, though.
The two traditional Japanese ways of cooking Kobe beef is either poaching in flavored broth or quickly grilled. This week, we’ll look at the poaching method.
The name “shabu-shabu” is Japanese onomatopoeia for the “swish-swish” sound of the meat cooking in broth. You can cook this in a pot on the stove, but a double-boiler would work better and an at-home fondue pot is the best.
- Slice a pound of sirloin or tenderloin paper thin with a mandolin slicer. The thinner the slices, the better the Kobe beef will taste.
- For the vegetables, you may have to visit a specialty or Asian market (but you bought Kobe beef, so an extra trip isn’t that much trouble).
- Slice Chinese cabbage (Bok Choy works just as well), enokitake mushrooms (long, thin white stems), watercress, shirataki (Japanese yam) noodles, Shitake mushrooms and very firm tofu.
- For a dipping sauce, buy different styles of soy sauces, which are much more varied in flavors than the Kikimon name-brand with which many of us are familiar.
- First place the Kombu in a pot of cold water and slowly bring the water to just below a boil and then remove it. Bring the liquid to a very low boil and place the vegetables, mushrooms, and tofu in the liquid and let them cook first, since they can overcook and become mushy. When the vegetables poach to a firm crunch, remove them.
- Now comes the Kobe beef. Place the thinly sliced Kobe into the liquid and let it poach. Take your fork, or chop sticks, and move the slices of beef around in the liquid. This is the “swish-swish” of the dish’s name.
- It will only take a few minutes to cook the beef, but given that it’s poached, you don’t have to worry too much about drying the meet out. Nonetheless, just give it a minute or two.
How was your attempt at shabu-shabu? Did you change the traditional mix of flavors?