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Chanko Nabe - Hot Pot Workshop Part III

Posted on November 19, 2009 at 10:07 AM

Chanko Nabe with Tsumire, chicken balls and ten kinds of vegetables

Chanko nabe was a big hit at both nabe workshops.  I think a lot had to do with the familiarity of the ingredients, particularly the dashi in this nabe, which is chicken broth. Japanese chicken broth is very easy to prepare at home, and with that in hand, you are set to make this nabe.  Every time I make Chanko nabe, I try a new ingredient.  Almost anything goes: meat, Seafood and a variety of vegetables of your choice.  Someone asked if bell peppers would work or not.  Naoko thought it would if you added some curry in the broth.  Good idea.  In the Sumo world, the wreslter in charge of cooking gets to pick the ingredients and seasonings.  If he decides butter and cream should go into the chanko, then so be it. 

My Chanko nabe is healthy and hearty. The basic seasonings are sake and salt but not too much.  If the chicken broth is really good, you don't need that much seasoning, so you taste and decide what suits your palate.  I skim the fat off the chicken broth and use a half a dozen or more vegetables in the nabe mix plus tofu. There is one thing to remember when using a variety of vegetables in nabe.  Root vegetables such as carrot, potato, daikon radish, burdock, turnip take longer to cook, so they go into the nabe first. Greens, such as spinach and mizuna go into the pot last because they need only a minute to cook. The one thing you want to avoid is overcooking the ingredients - and that applies to everything.

For the Saturday workshop, we stuck to the purist Sumo wrestler Chanko nabe.  The only meat we used was ground chicken, which are shaped into balls, tsumire, and cooked in the nabe. I was more flexible on Sunday because people wanted to taste the Chanko Nabe with pork.  So I threw some sukiyaki style Kurobuta belly into the Nabe.  The pork added savoriness to the broth. Both versions came out delicious.  

Somebody asked me if you can make this nabe on the stove top in a regular cast iron or enamelware pot.  Sure, why not.  I do it sometimes.

How about making a post Thanksgiving soup, using the carcass of the roasted turkey.  If I get around to making a Turkey Chanko Nabe,  I will blog about it!

Watching how to make Homemade dashi, the broth.


Serves 4 to 8

Almost any ingredient goes with this nabe. Serve this nabe with plain rice or Ojiya, porridge.  Cold sake or Shochu go nicely with Nabe.

The Dashi - Chicken Broth: 10 cups of chicken broth (Here is the link to the recipe)

1 cup sake

4 tsp salt to taste

Vegetables and Tofu:

½ cup cabbage, leaves washed and separated

1 onion, peeled and sliced crosswise, 1/4 inch thick

1/3 daikon, peeled and sliced into half moons, about ¼ inch thick

1 carrot, peeled and sliced into rectangles or flower shapes, about ¼ inch thick.

4 Shitake mushrooms


1 bag

1 Firm tofu

½ bunch of or

3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thinly

1/2 pork belly (sukiyaki style cut) - optional

Chicken Tsumire (Chicken Meat Balls):

1 lbs ground chicken (prefer chicken leg)

¼ onion, peeled and minced

2/3 tbsp  (potato starch) or cornstarch

1 tbsp grated ginger

1 tbls sake

1 egg

½-1/3 tsp salt

Dash of ground pepper

Garnishes and Condiments for the Table:

½ cup ground roasted sesame seeds

½ cup scallions, sliced thinly

1/3 cup grated ginger

Seasoned ground chicken to make Tsumire, chicken balls,

which are cooked at the table. 


Make the Dashi - chicken broth. Season 8 cups of the broth with sake and salt.  If the quality of your broth is very good, you may not need as much salt.  Taste and decide what suits your palate.  Reserve the remaining 2 cups of plain chicken broth to replenish the hot pot.

Chicken Tsumire:

In a medium size bowl, combine ground chicken, sake, ginger, egg, onions, salt , sake and pepper to taste. Use your hands to mix the ingredients. Refrigerate.

Cabbage is a popular chanko ingredient.

The Vegetables, Age and Tofu:

Take tofu out of the package, and drain water. Cut into 8 cubes.

Cut the age into 1 inch wide pieces, crosswise.

Clean the mushrooms. Remove stems.

Wash the greens, and cut root end.

Slice Negi or scallions crosswise, about 1/4 inch thick.

Arrange everything on a large platter, keeping each ingredient in its own pile.

Prepare the garnishes and condiments.


Set the table with chopsticks, spoons, and serving bowls for each person. Bring out the condiments and garnishes and set them on the table.

Bring the seasoned dashi, the plain dashi (in a little pitcher or cup) the chicken tsumire, and the vegetable platter to the table. Turn on the portable burner.

Pour the seasoned dashi in the Donabe, Hot pot, and heat the dashi over medium heat. When the seasoned dashi starts to gently boil, turn heat to low, and add all cabbage, daikon, carrot , age and the onions and the garlic slices. Cook the ingredients in the simmering broth for 4-5 minutes.  

With two spoons or clean wet hands, make tsumire balls, using about 1.5 tbls of the ground chicken mixture, and drop the balls gently into the broth. Repeat until you have used up half or all of the mixture. (Note: If you plan to serve the nabe in two stages, reserve half for the second round.)  Cook for a couple of minutes, until the tsumire floats freely. Also add the tofu at this time and cook for 3-5 minutes.


kim off any surface scum if you see any. Taste the broth. Make adjustments with

plain chicken broth or sake if it is on the salty side. Likewise, add more salt if neceessary.


Add the greens during the last minute. Do not over cook the greens.

Serve one tsumire and the vegetables with some soup. People can also serve themselves.

Garnish the soup with your favorite condiment.

Sake cups drying after the workshop.

Note: If you plan to do a second round, try to clear the first round of ingredients. Have a bowl for the leftovers. One of the things a host does during the nabe dinner is to encourage the guests to have more so you don’t end up with leftovers. You don’t want to mix overcooked ingredients with the fresh ones. The left over broth can be used for the second round or to make Ojiya, porridge or used as a broth for noodles.

Categories: Hot Pot Cooking - Nabe

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