鍋 Nabe (Nah-Beh)

A small earthenware vessel with a big pile of ingredients. Bubbling over an intimate table top burner, it embraces you with comfort and soothes your insides in the winter. During the summer though it can unleash torrents down your face, involuntarily raising your hand to pat your brow dry. I’m talking about nabe!

Nabe simply means pot but commonly refers to the food in the pot- traditionally clay or cast iron. It is likely to have come from rural areas, cooked over a hearth. Now, it is not uncommon to find a portable gas burner doing the work. This is an event for camaraderie, characteristic of the winter. (I recognize this isn’t the most timely.) Food and laughter are shared over the communal nabe. A number of ingredients- from cabbage and green onions to pork and mushrooms- are boiled in either a light or strong broth and diners pick from the pot what they want to eat. Sometimes, the more ingredients are added to the broth as room is made available.

Photo’s courtesy of James Mercer

Nabe covers a variety of dishes, typically soups or stews that go by the name of (among others) sukiyaki, shabu shabu, chankonabe, or motsu nabe. Chankonabe is worth attention because it is the meal of the sumo wrestler. The different training stables often have their own recipe of what goes in the pot; walking away from the pot are bigger and stronger athletes.  We will talk about Motsu nabe in tomorrows post of #MyKinjo series, featuring ON: Motsu Nabe Mise. See you then!

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