Tells a story


Chanko Nabe - Hot Pot Workshop Part I

Posted on November 18, 2009 at 11:05 AM

A medley of vegetables for nabe.

I  have been testing my Nabe, hot pot recipes to prepare for this weekend's hot pot workshop, and yesterday, I broke house record.  I made FIVE Nabes in one day.  I started cooking at 11 am with my friend, Naoko Moore, who is helping me with the workshop.  Then a bunch of  friends came over for dinner, and I made more. We finished around 10 pm.  This may not sound like many hot pots to a chef, and it certainly isn't. What surprised me was my appetite.  Even though I continuously cooked and ate throughout the day, I never felt really stuffed.  Instead, I felt nourished and energized. Good food and friends do magic, and I have not turned into a sumo wrestler.

One of the recipes I tested was the sumo wreslter inspired hot pot called Chanko Nabe. This Hot pot is a savory soupy dish that is made with a rich chicken broth base. As with all Nabe, you always want to start with good dashi, basic stock, so it's worth taking that extra step to make it from scratch.  This chicken stock takes a minimum of two hours to make, using a whole chicken, and it is best if you let it cook for another three or four hours to extract the collagen, which gives the stock the savoriness or Umami, to the broth.  


 Chanko Nabe

A typical Chanko nabe contains chicken balls and a variety of vegetables, meat and seafood. These white balls symbolize  "shiroboshi" the white victory stars in a sumo match. So the more chicken balls in a Chanko nabe, the more luck comes your way.  I ate a half a dozen chicken balls while testing and tasting the nabes, and yesterday turned out to be a rather victorious day. All five of my Nabes came out delicious.  Some Chanko nabes contain no pork or beef because unlike the chicken, these four-legged animals are in the looser's pose in a sumo match - both hands touching the ground.  That means bad luck for a sumo wrestler.  But many sumo wrestlers don't bother with this superstiton.  I have come across Chanko nabes that contain pork belly, sausges, even bacon.  Seafood is popular, too. Throw in that lobster tail.  I bet it will make a good Chanko. 

We made the chicken balls with ground chicken legs, grated ginger, egg, sake, salt and pepper. You can also add a little miso for extra flavor but we omitted it.  The chicken balls were cooked in the chicken broth, along with sliced onions, cabbage, carrots, daikon, napa cabbage, age (deep fried tofu pouches), Mizuna, tofu, and slices of garlic.  Certain vegetables take longer to cook than others, and act as flavor enhancers so they go into the pot first. Those were sliced onions, cabbage, carrots, daikon, age, the lower white part of the napa cabbage.  After about five minutes of simmering, we opened the pot, and added tofu, the leafy part of the napa cabbage, and the mushrooms.  We cooked the ingredients for another 5 minutes, and during the final minute, added the Mizuna.


Naoko is enjoying the fragrance of Yuzu. Look at the beautiful steam rising from the Donabe, hot pot.  

The chicken balls, or the shiroboshi, the white victory balls, were very tasty. So were all the vegetables and tofu.  I wonder what this Chanko Nabe would taste like with pork belly?  It would probably add more umami but I wanted to stick to the traditional Chanko nabe.  We served the nabe with lots of garnishes:  grated daikon radish, roasted sesame seeds,  Yuzu kosho, shichimi pepper, and ponzu sauce.  I love this Nabe with ground roasted sesame seeds.  This Chanko Nabe was a winner!  Here is to sumo-togetherness!

Simmering the chicken broth.


Makes 8-12 cups depending on how long you cook the broth.

Make the broth earlier in the day or the day before.

1 Whole chicken or 1 carcass of chicken with wings

2 Negi or 4 scallions, green parts only

1 inch of ginger, peeled and sliced about ¼ inch thick

3 garlic cloves, peeled

5 peppercorns

20 cups of water

Wash the chicken under running water. Set aside.

Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Pour over the chicken. This step is called “Shimofuri”, and it is giving the chicken a pre-bath before it goes into the Pot. This step helps remove the chicken’s odor and scum.

In a large saucepan combine the water, chicken, scallions or negi, garlic, and ginger and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower heat to a simmer and cook the chicken for 4-6 hours, occasionally removing the scum from the surface.

Strain the broth, using a cheese cloth over a strainer. Reserve the chicken broth. Let stand overnight in the fridge. Remove excess oil from surface. Use the broth for Chanko Nabe (here is the link to the recipe).

Note: The chicken meat is used to make a good soup. If you want to eat the meat,

you can take the chicken out of the pot after an hour and remove the breasts.  Leave the

other parts in pot to make the  broth.

Categories: Hot Pot Cooking - Nabe

Post a Comment


Oops, you forgot something.


The words you entered did not match the given text. Please try again.

Already a member? Sign In

1 Comment

Reply Sakae
4:40 PM on November 15, 2009 
Looks good!