The one thing I always look for before starting a meal is some sort of sauce. Whether that’s mustard to go on a sandwich, or dressing on a salad, I’m all about the sauce.
On our Japan trip this summer, we tried a ton of different foods. I noticed that in many dishes, the sauce, or garnish really takes it to another level. Think wasabi infused soy sauce on sushi, pickled vegetables on rice, or even Bulldog/Tonkatsu sauce to go with pork cutlet. These foods that play supporting roles in meals are often remembered just as much as the main dish itself. Japanese shabu shabu is no exception.
Some of you might know it by hot pot, others by shabu shabu, but most East Asian cuisines know it as a simple broth with lots of different vegetables, meats, and carbs mixed in. Imagine a big pot over a flame with plates of raw foods on the side. As the meal goes on, you just simply add more items into the broth and let it cook. Usually the soup isn’t that salty, so everything that comes out is more or less on the bland side. Most shabu shabu restaurants feature a slightly sweet, thick sesame sauce and my personal favorite, Ponzu (soy sauce but with a lot more citrus). With these two mouth watering garnishes, you can literally make anything taste amazing. On our Japan trip, we ate at a couple of shabu shabu restaurants, and I made sure that everything had sauce on it. I probably had to refill my sauce dish more then three times each meal because the copious amount that I consumed. It’s almost as if the sauces are highly addictive. Sometimes when I’m really hungry, I start eating the sauces plain before the meal comes (I know, it’s gross).
If you ever go to eat shabu shabu (I recommend Shabuway because it’s a local chain), you’ll know what I’m talking about, that’s for sure. You’ll have a really unique experience and after only a few bites you’ll be sauce’in it up.