Shabu Shabu Wine Dinner
I love finding new, delicious ways to get together with friends. A Shabu Shabu dinner party is the perfect fit: it’s fun, interactive, and a great way to get the action going at a dinner party.
Shabu shabu is a Japanese-style hot pot that is filled with broth or hot water that you dip and swirl raw, thinly sliced meat and vegetables in to cook — similar to fondue. It’s said the name comes from the sound the food makes when you swirl it in broth, and it makes for one heck of a dinner party!
Shabu shabu parties are a fun, active meal that are hearty without being too heavy or fattening, making it the perfect meal for a unique dinner party your guests will love!
I paired our beef shabu shabu dinner with some bottles of La Crema’s Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir – the slightly spicy finish and notes of black tea, cherry, and a hint of chocolate balance well with the salty dipping sauces, thinly sliced steak, and deliciously soft vegetables we took turns cooking in broth.
I used our dinner party as the perfect occasion to invest in a nice set of chopsticks and some ceramic chopstick holders in the shape of origami cranes, and invested in some pretty (but very minimal) décor in gold tones to match my tabletop grill.
Since shabu shabu style meals involve cooking your own food, most of the table space was used for displaying food to dip in our hot pot. I love all the bright colors and interesting textures of the food we ate — they truly make for stunning table décor on their own! Don’t crowd the meal with fussy table setups, they will just get in the way of all of the fun!
Author: Courtney O'Dell
Recipe type: Main
For the Shabu Shabu broth
- Chicken or beef stock (about one container for every 2 people)
- 8 oz dried mushrooms- lobster, oyster, shiitake- whatever you can find easily
- 1 stalk fresh lemongrass
For the meal:
- 1 8oz thinly sliced ribeye steak per person (some deli counters will slice them for you, if not, you can freeze them slightly and try to cut them as thin as possible)
- 1 large stalk bok-choy, washed well to remove all dirt and grit, and the base removed (so they are individual stalks, not a whole bunch)
- 8 oz enoki mushrooms
- 8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced thin
- 3 carrots, sliced into thin rounds
- ½ cabbage, cut into thin strips
- 1 bell pepper, cut into 2” chunks
- Combine ingredients in pot and heat over a low flame until mushrooms have fully reconstituted and broth darkens to a deep amber color.
- I like to let the broth cook for about 30 minutes to an hour before serving the meal so it has more flavor, but that is purely optional.
- Turn heat up to create a low, rolling boil when it is time to cook the food in your hot pot. Adding a lot of meat may require you to turn the heat up even more as the chilled meat will bring the temperature of the water down. You want it to be so hot meat cooks quickly- but not so hot it all evaporates or boils over.
Tips for a great Shabu Shabu night:
Be safe! Cooking over an open flame is no joke. Be a responsible host and make sure everyone knows to keep a safe distance from the hot pot to avoid burns from the boiling water, the hot pot, or the flame from your heat source. Having a few skimming spoons on hand is a great idea, so it’s easy to fish out your food if you’re not the most skilled at using chopsticks.
Rough chop your veggies! Since it’s not always second nature to use chopsticks for everyone (I personally am not the most coordinated chopstick wielder), I like to keep my veggies a bit bigger when making shabu shabu, so they are easy enough to pick up with chopsticks while swirling in hot broth.
Set minimal décor. Not only is this a nod to Japan’s sleek, minimalist style, it is practical! Since your party will be gathered over one (or two) pots to cook their food in, you’ll have a lot of stuff on the table. Vegetables and meats to cook, chopsticks, sauces, and wines to sip! Clutter just gets in the way, so set the tone with simple, elegant touches.
Check out pot sizes. An 8 or 9 inch pot is perfect for two people- or if you’re patient and you have plenty of other foods you’re serving, it can work for 4 people. A 10-11” donabe works well for 4-5 people, and a 12” or more donabe works for groups of over 6.
Pick the perfect pot! You can use a dutch oven or other heavy pot that can sit directly on a flame, or even a fondue pot. There are a lot of beautiful options when finding a hot pot, but I prefer the simple cream and off white designs that are enameled inside for easy cleanup. You do NOT want to use a pot that has an enameled base, however, if you will be using any type of open-flame style stove. I love Japanese Donabes because they are so versatile and I can use them for gorgeous baked dishes, too. Just be sure to care for your pot properly, some must not be heated when empty, and must be allowed to heat slowly so they don’t crack (just don’t plop them over an extremely high flame or set them on a super hot fire/stove, and you’ll be fine.)
Find a heating source. If you’re hosting a hot pot meal outside, you can use any kind of camping stove to heat your meal. For indoor meals, be sure to find an indoor use appropriate butane fueled stove. I bought an Iwatani slim grill online and absolutely love it- it stays pretty cool to the touch, is a breeze to setup and clean up, and it is very pretty. There are also a lot of electric hot pot griddles and even some hot pots that are fully electric, no stove required!
Watch your water level. If your broth is getting low, add some water to the pot. Don’t worry about diluting your broth with the water- you’ll have had so many veggies and meat cooking in the water, it will be full of flavor. You need an almost full (but not so full it splashes over) pot to cook quickly and evenly.
Get your sauce on! While the action going on in the shabu shabu is the main attraction, the sauce is the most important element for me. I love a high-quality ponzu sauce with fresh green onions diced into it, as well as a slightly spicy tahini and shoyu based sauce that tastes like a creamy peanut sauce (without peanuts of any kind.)
For the full recipe for this decadent Shoyu Sesame Shabu Shabu Sauce, head to sweetcsdesigns.com.