Nabe (pronounced nabeh) is the Japanese word for “pot” and is used to refer to a class of dishes which includes favourites such as shabu shabu and sukiyaki. Yose (pronounced yoseh) means to “put together”, so yosenabe is a dish that’s often cooked in a pot at the table with meat, seafood and veggies put together.
Depending on what region of Japan you’re from, the broth can be made from seafood or meat and can be seasoned with miso, soy sauce or salt. All the regional combinations of items that go into nabes, makes it a very versatile dish that’s eaten all over Japan in winter. This is all just a long way of saying that there’s no right way to make a nabe.
At its core, it’s a simple hearty stew that’s heavy on vegetables and light on meat. Because it’s typically cooked in a giant ceramic or cast iron pot at the table, it’s boiling hot when it reaches your bowl and is a great way to warm up during the cold months.
While I’m no expert on all the regional variations of yosenabe (I doubt anyone could really keep track of all the variations), I’m fairly certain putting tahini into a nabe is pretty uncommon. It’s a weird quirk I have that started with a penchant for putting tahini in packaged ramens to give them a little more oomph. I love it because it gives the soup a white creaminess not unlike the rich pork broth used in tonkotsu ramen. The earthy flavors of are perfect compliments and the rich creaminess provides the stick-to-your-ribs feel without the stick-to-your-ribs calories.
Before you balk at the long list of ingredients, you don’t need everything, just 1 or 2 from each category.
3 C dashi
1/4 C miso
2 Tbs mirin
1 Tbs tahini
1 tsp sugar
veggies group A
Chicken thighs cut into chunks
Fish cut it chunks
veggies group B
veggies group C
In a medium cast iron pot, clay pot, or french oven (like a Le Creuset), add all the ingredients for the stock and whisk to combine. Heat over a table top burner or on the stove until simmering. Add a few items from veggie group A as well as any meat you want to add. After they’ve cooked, add some items from veggies group B, mushrooms, and other. When those are ready, finish by adding some veggies from group C.
Serve with an empty bowl and bowl of rice, keeping a ladle and long chopsticks at the table to pick out the bits each person wants.
It’s also common to finish the meal by adding a bowl of pre-cooked ramen, udon or rice into the left over stock after most of the veggies and meat have been eaten.