Nabe is a traditional hot pot dish containing broth, vegetables, meat or seafood. It is cooked together in an earthenware vessel. The dish is a classic Japanese comfort food and has been eaten in Japan for as long as earthenware cookware has existed. There are a number of different types of nabe made with local ingredients that vary by region. Some famous varieties include kani nabe (crab hot pot), which is often eaten in the winter, and the protein-filled chanko nabe eaten by sumo wrestlers.
A familiar winter dish of Japan is sold on the streets in the colder months. In this dish, a variety of ingredients such as egg, tofu, konnyaku yam cake, daikon radish and last but not least, fishcake are cooked together in a soy sauce based broth. A must-eat dish you should try when wandering around the streets of Japan in the winter. Moreover, you can easily find Oden at many konbini (convenience stores) as well.
Zosui and Okayu
Zosui, literally means miscellaneous cooking. It is a dish made with rice and water, similar to Okayu. They are similar in that they are both made with cooked rice to a watery consistency and often eaten n the colder months, and when someone’s ill. However, okayu is more like a rice-porridge, while zosui is more like a soup with rice in it. Often the leftover of a nabe would be the base for zosui, simply by adding a bowl of rice to remaining broth.
Popular with Japanese Buddhist, a yudofu is a simple yet delicious hot pot. Minimal ingredients used in this dish as a typical Yudofu only contains tofu cubes and vegetables in hot water. However, as with many recipes, there are options with various meats and more ingredients. Kombu also known as edible seaweed can be added for extra flavor. The Yudofu is a winter favorite amongst the Japanese monks and can be as simple or as complex as you fancy.
A winter favorite - though still eaten throughout the year since it's so delicious - sukiyaki is a hot pot dish made with a sweet soy sauce broth into which tender slices of beef and vegetables are simmered. Often the dish will include grilled tofu, shiitake mushrooms and sliced Welsh onions, making for an extremely savory flavor. The cooked beef and other ingredients are dipped into beaten raw egg yolks as they are eaten, creating a sweet creamy sauce.
It is a hearty soup made from a few key ingredients such as miso, tofu, seaweed and dashi. Add to this soup as you please whether you want to include vegetables or meat and fish. However, a great miso soup is said to contain a balance of ingredients which float and ingredients which sink. The soup has an umami taste which is described as a meaty or brothy taste which lingers on the tongue.
Another winter seafood item is fugu or puffer/blowfish. Fugu tends to be enjoyed in the winter months and is thought of as a winter dish. One of the most delicious seafood dishes, it is also potentially one of the most deadly. Because of powerful toxins in the fish, ingesting it can have dire consequences, and so chefs require a special license to even serve the fish.
Nikujaga is a type of Japanese comfort food made with potatoes and meat braised in liquid, typically beef in the Kansai region of western Japan and pork in the Kanto area to the east. The dish is widely associated with home cooking, especially “ofukuro no aji” or “Mom’s home cooking”. It was created in the 1800s as a dish that emulated western-style stews and is often served as part of a larger meal of rice, soup, and side dishes or packed into a bento box for lunch.
A common sight during winter in Japan, yaki-imo, or roasted sweet potato, have a reddish skin and golden inside and are roasted slowly at low temperatures until the center becomes tender. They are typically sold in front of grocery shops and by street vendors who drive around town, roasting them in the back of their truck.