When I was told that Healthy Shabu-shabu was sponsoring a How-to-Cook Shabu-shabu event, I was ecstatic! Shabu-shabu was something I’ve always been meaning to try, between seeing it on Japanese TV shows and reading about it in cookbooks. Still, I was confident. I knew my way around the kitchen. How difficult could stewing food be?
Shabu-shabu is a form of Nabe, a Japanese hotpot meal. It has roots as war sustenance—Genghis Khan decided that gathering his soldiers around to partake of a meal by hotpot was a very economical, fast and nutritious way of keeping his armies fed. Centuries later, it was made popular in Japan, where families would sit around a steaming hot pot, swishing meat around, waiting for it to cook.
All ready for my first stab at Shabu-shabu, I took my place at the specially designed table which were fitted with individual pots. Unlike the traditional shabu-shabu where you all dip in one singular, communal pot, we each had our own electric hot pots. Soup was poured into each individual pot, afterwards, we were directed to turn the controls on and crank up the temperature to 150.
Platters of food soon came rolling in. I ordered the combination meat and seafood set which consisted of a platter of veggies (chinese cabbage, corn, taro), surimi (squidballs, imitation crabstick), tofu, and noodles (egg and fat vermicelli), a platter of seafood and a platter of thinly sliced Black Angus beef. Honestly, it came as a shock to me as food kept coming and coming. Seeing the amount of food on the table, I had a sneaking suspicion that I was going to get pwned that night.
We began with the sauce. “Don’t mistake it for tea,” our host, Healthy Shabu-shabu owner Candy Hwang told us. Apparently, some people do. Fortunately, not me. We were instructed to mix half of our spices—garlic, chili, spring onions, into the secret sauce, and the other half into the boiling soup. After this, we also added a special barbecue sauce. Once more, a secret recipe.
We were also told that to add more flavor to the sauce, we could add an egg yolk in, then use the eggwhite as a tenderizer. This is where my failure begins. I had this bright idea to do as suggested. While the other people were waiting for staff assistance, I went ahead, cracked my egg and started separating. Using the eggshells and my hands. I was separating an egg by hand at a restaurant. *headdesk* And I was the only one doing it. *headdesk headdesk* FAIL!