January and February are known to the coldest winter months. And one of the ways to stay warm and cozy is eating hearty food. The best time to try hotpots in Japan is now! Nabemono vary from prefecture to prefecture and even have several regional variations.
These days, you can get the stock for your hotpot at a supermarket and add whatever ingredients you want to make your own unique version.
Here’s our pick of the famous five:
Hakata Mentaiko Motsu Nabe
Mentaiko is made from marinated spicy pollock roe and is famous in Hakata. Motsu refers to pork or beef offal; as you can see this hotpot is topped with cabbage and mentaiko and after simmering for a while, you mix the ingredients together.
Once you finish eating the veggies and offal, you can top the pot with some rice and let it absorb the remaining soup, then add a beaten egg and mix for a delicious end to your meal.
Hiroshima Kaki Nabe
Oysters are a winter delicacy and Hiroshima is known for its massive oysters, the largest oyster provider in Japan.
For a typical Hiroshima-style nabe, a thick layer of miso (soybean paste) is applied to the inner edge of the pot, dried bonito, kelp, broth and water are added. After simmering for a while, you add tofu and vegetables and finally oysters. As the temperature of the broth rises, the miso stuck to the pot blends slowly into the broth creating a perfect fusion.
Osaka Fugu Nabe
Fugu, which is pufferfish or blowfish, remains one of the most dangerous things to consume in the world and Japan is known to offer this delicacy! Osaka is known to consume about 70% of the pufferfish in Japan. Since fugu is a precious resource, these often tend to be expensive. To respect this expensive ingredient, the nabe only has stock, seaweed or kelp and some vegetables.
The fish gently cooked on a low flame and dipped in vinegar tastes brilliant.
Ibaraki Anko Nabe
On first sight, this looks like a scene from a horror movie!!
After natto, Ibaraki is well known for its anglerfish delicacies. This deep-sea fish found at about a depth of 100-300 meters in Japan’s waters is called anko. All parts of this fish are edible but according to a lot of food lovers, the best part is that of the liver. Simmered on a low heat with lots of vegetables, this is a must-try in Ibaraki.
Hokkaido no Kani Nabe
When you think of Hokkaido, without a doubt the first thing that comes to mind are its crabs!
Made using winter vegetables and fresh crabs, the stock is a simple broth made using bonito flakes and soy sauce. Once the crab meat cooks, the whole pot is infused with a rich crab flavor.