Shabu shabu is a hot pot dish where the customer swishes thinly sliced beef and vegetables in a steaming hot broth at his table. It is cooked instantly in the simmering broth and it can be eaten bite by bite over the course of the meal. The name shabu shabu literally means "swish swish," which refers to the gentle swishing of the meat in the broth while cooking. While beef is the main meat for this dish, restaurants may also offer sliced pork, chicken and lamb. As you can swish a variety of vegetables, vegetarians can forgo meat and make it a vegetable-only meal.
Shabu Shabu is a Rather Healthy Meat Dish
Sukiyaki Style Differs in Kanto and Kansai
Sukiyaki is a hot pot dish with sweet and salty flavor seasoned with shoyu (soy sauce), mirin (rice wine) and sugar. Meat for sukiyaki is sliced slightly ticker than shabu shabu. Aside from the sliced beef, common ingredients for sukiyaki are tofu, leek, Chinese cabbage, shiitake mushrooms and shirataki noodles. Kanto and Kansai regions prepare sukiyaki differently. Kanto style first prepare a seasoning called warishita (a type of sweet sauce) prepared by mixing sugar, shoyu, mirin and sake and then meat, vegetables and other ingredients are simmered together. Kansai style does not use warishita, but instead cook meat first, which is then seasoned with sugar and soy sauce and lastly adding vegetables to the pot.
Shabu Shabu and Sukiyaki are not the Same
Sukiyaki and shabu-shabu are two different hot pot styles in Japan. Sukiyaki is somewhat similar to shabu shabu, but the main difference is that the ingredients are cooked together before serving. Sukiyaki is cooked skillet style and offers a rich flavor as it is seasoned with soy sauce and sugar. Shabu shabu, in contrast, is cooked like a soup and tends to be less sweet. Both are otherwise similar in that they use thinly sliced meat and vegetables and are dipped in a sauce before eating.