Guest Post: Mimi – Onabe (Japanese Hot Pot)

Some of my favorite guest posts comes from those in other food cultures. Here is a new one in that category. Mimi from Les Saveurs De Mimi has a great recipe for us. Check our her blog and the post below….

Onabe or Nabemono refers to a variety of Japanese hot pot dishes usually served during the winter months. The dish is a stew or a soup cooked in one communal pot and typically served on a portable gas stove. There are two types of onabe in Japan, one uses a lightly flavored stock served with accompanying dipping sauces to flavor the onabe ingredients and the other uses a strong flavored stock such as oden and sukiyaki, which is served without any accompanying sauces. The pots are typically made out of clay or cast iron in order to retain and evenly distribute heat. The pot is placed in the center of the table and shared with multiple people.

Onabe is considered the most social form of eating within Japan since everyone shares food from the communal pot. Interestingly, the word onabe itself means pot in Japanese. Although onabe is a traditional Japanese dish, there are multiple variations of it throughout the nation. Each prefecture has its own version of onabe, which usually includes a regional food. For example, Hokkaido will add butter, salmon or oysters to their onabe, whereas the Tohoku region will add kiritampo, pounded rice that has been skewered and grilled beforehand. The Kansai region will add udon to their hotpot, whale meat in onabe is considered a specialty in Osaka.

For me, onabe is the perfect dish for warming me up during the cold days and the perfect dish to stave off homesickness. I grew up in Tokyo and moved to New York to attend college in 2010, since then I have graduated and am currently working in New York. However, with my entire family halfway across the world, it’s hard not to miss them. Whenever I do, I try and cook dishes that my dad, he’s the chef in our household, used to make me.

Since it’s winter, I have been focusing on making onabe. Onabe is, in my opinion, the perfect warming dish because it’s served piping hot and filled with hearty vegetables and proteins. While I’ve had various different ingredients in my onabe, I found that my favorite ingredients are shiitake mushrooms, burdock root, carrots and daikon. Specifically, I love carrots from Kyoto, they are a beautiful glossy scarlet hue and are considered a traditional Japanese vegetable. I also like adding eggs to my onabe, but my coworkers tell me that adding eggs makes it oden, a Japanese winter dish with a soy flavored broth.   My dad also makes killer chicken meatballs, using ground chicken, ginger, and negi (welsh onion?). Although I have never had whale meat in my onabe, I have had kiritampo as well as other regional ingredients such as fugu (blow fish), oysters and konnyaku, a yam cake also known as devil’s tongue.

Usually, onabe is finished with rice or udon noodles. The udon noodles, usually precooked, are simply warmed in the onabe and eaten whereas some people like to pour the soup over the rice. My coworkers, who are also Japanese, add rice directly to the pot instead.   During New Year’s, my family typically adds mochi to the hot pot. Mochi, although it’s marketed as a sweet dessert in the U.S. is a pounded rice cake made from glutinous short grain rice and is usually eaten in savory dishes during the New Year.

For this post, I will be sharing a simple onabe recipe, which consists of a lightly flavored stock and a variety of my favorite vegetables.

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Dashi or broth:

-Kombu (kelp, you can find it in most Asian food stores in it’s dried form)

-Bonito flakes

-Salt, soy sauce and sugar to taste

Onabe ingredients

-1 burdock root, sliced

-2 carrots, sliced

-1 lotus root, sliced

-1 daikon (winter radish), sliced

-1 pack of Shiitake mushrooms, sliced

-1 pack of Enokitake (long, thin, white mushrooms)

-Half a head of Napa cabbage, roughly chopped

-Chicken or protein of your choice, thinly sliced



  1. To create the dashi, fill your pot with water and add in the kombu. Once it softens, cut a few slits into it (against the grain). Heat the water at medium temperature until the water begins to simmer. Once the water begins to simmer, remove the konbu from the water. The water should smell like the ocean. Add in the bonito flakes for about a minute or two and then remove them.
  2. Add in the carrots, burdock root, lotus root and daikon. These root vegetables take a while to cook and so will need to be cooked for longer.
  3. Add in the salt, soy sauce and sugar to give the broth more depth. It may taste watery, but that’s okay because you will be cooking the vegetables and protein in this broth, which will add further flavor.
  4. Add in the mushrooms and other ingredients as you eat. Of course with the meat, be sure to cook it for a few minutes before taking any other ingredients from the pot. Just make sure not to overcrowd the pot!

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The thing I love most about onabe is that you typically cook all the ingredients as you eat, making it a sort of interactive dinner. Everyone can add their own ingredients to the pot and take whatever ingredients they like. The food is served hot and you don’t spend hours cooking in the kitchen by yourself. It’s simple, hearty and a fun way to spend a cold winter night that will warm you both inside and out!

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Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Chicken2, Guest, Japanese, kosher, Low Carb, Lunch3, Soup and Stew, vegan, Vegetable4, Vegetarian

Author:The Ranting Chef

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7 Comments on “Guest Post: Mimi – Onabe (Japanese Hot Pot)”

  1. miyoreos
    January 21, 2015 at 11:21 am #

    Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to guest post! 🙂


  2. January 21, 2015 at 11:32 am #

    That looks fabulous!


  3. January 21, 2015 at 11:45 am #

    Putting on my menu for next week. It looks and sounds delish.


  4. January 21, 2015 at 3:45 pm #

    wow taste delicious


  5. Katie
    January 22, 2015 at 5:19 pm #

    That is lovely!


  6. January 19, 2020 at 10:43 am #

    Nice Reviews



  1. Guest post on The Ranting Chef! | Les Saveurs De Mimi - January 21, 2015

    […] Be sure to check out my guest blog post on The Ranting Chef today! […]


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