by Bridget Sandorford
I spent a year teaching English in South Korea, and I enjoyed sampling traditional cuisine with my fellow expat teachers. One of the most popular dishes amongst the group was shabu shabu (샤부 샤부), a hot pot dish served over several courses. In the first course, a spicy soup with leeks, greens and other vegetables is boiled and pieces of thinly sliced beef are dipped in it to cook. Once the meat is eaten, thick udon (noodles) are added to the pot and enjoyed as a soup. The final course combines rice with the remaining vegetables and stock for a fried-rice-type dish.
When I visited Japan on a school break, I was surprised to learn that the dish was actually traditional Japanese cuisine. According to Wikipedia, Shabu shabu (しゃぶしゃぶ) is "related to sukiyaki in style, in that both use thinly sliced meat and vegetables and are usually served with dipping sauces, but it is considered to be more savory and less sweet than sukiyaki." It is considered a winter dish because of its hot and hearty nature.
The Japanese style of shabu shabu uses boiling water instead of a spicy soup in which to cook the meat, and the step adding noodles to the broth is skipped. Rice is added instead for a thick soup. Meat is also dipped in sesame and other sauces, and tofu and other vegetables are served with it. Overall, the dish is blander.
The name "shabu shabu" means "swish swish," which is the sound the meat makes when being swirled around the water on chopsticks to cook. According to Wikipedia, the dish was introduced in Japan in the 20th century with the opening of the restaurant Suehiro, which trademarked the name. The dish is now served throughout Asia by that name, as well as in some parts of America and Canada that serve traditional Asian foods.
Bridget Sandorford is a grant researcher and writer for CulinarySchools.org. Along with her passion for whipping up recipes that incorporate "superfoods", she recently finished research on types of chefs and texas culinary schools.