Shabu-shabu is a Japanese dish in which extremely thin slices of meat are cooked by swishing them back and forth several times in dashi (broth) boiled in a special tabletop pot, dipped in sauce and eaten with boiled ingredients such as vegetables, tofu and kuzukiri. This sauce is generally sesame sauce or ponzu.
Beef is the main ingredient, but pork and chicken as well as seafood including blowfish, octopus, sea bream, and snow crab are also used. Beef shabu-shabu is called "gyu-shabu," and pork shabu-shabu is known as "buta-shabu."
Shabu-shabu around Japan
Octopus 'tako-shabu' and mutton 'ramu-shabu' are popular in Hokkaido, Nagoya is known for 'tori-shabu' made using Nagoya cochin chicken, 'buri-shabu' from Toyama Prefecture is made using yellowtail fish, and the 'kurobuta-shabu' from Kagoshima Prefecture is made using Kagoshima Kurobuta (Black Berkshire) pork.
The name 'shabu-shabu' was coined in 1952 by the restaurant Suehiro in Osaka when it offered the dish as a house specialty. The name became a registered trademark in 1955 but it was not 'Shabu-shabu' but 'Niku no Shabu-shabu' (lit. Meat shabu-shabu) that was registered by Suehiro, and it said that this decision was reversed by the company president in order to allow the name to be used by any restaurant.
The column-like protrusion in the middle of the special shabu-shabu pots is a remnant of a feature originally used in which to place charcoal to heat the pot.
Shabu-shabu is a Japanese dish but there are numerous theories regarding its origin.
Beijing has a mutton hot pot dish known as 'shuan yang rou,' and this is said to have developed into modern shabu-shabu after being introduced to Japan following the World War II by Tottori City native Shoya YOSHIDA, leader of the mingei (folk art) movement, who was stationed in Beijing as an army medic during the war and introduced it at his Nijudanya restaurant in Kyoto, changing the main ingredient from mutton to beef, and receiving the input of individuals such as; Sosetsu YANAGI and Kanjiro KAWAI.
Unlike Japanese shabu-shabu, the ingredients used in Chinese hot pot are not merely dipped in the pot but need to be stewed for a little longer.
Shoya YOSHIDA's shabu-shabu predecessor, "gyuniku no susugi nabe" is served at the "Takumi Kappo" restaurant in Tottori City.
The president of Suehiro at the time introduced sukiyaki for the reason that "it was not possible to sell yakiniku (grilled meat) during summertime," and shabu-shabu, which is often considered to be a winter dish, is actually a typical summer dish.