Vegetable shabu-shabu with sesame sauce recipe


This Japanese soup features chewy udon noodles, silky tofu, and tender vegetables in a simple, savory broth. Shabu-shabu is traditionally a hot-pot dish in which the ingredients are cooked at the table in boiling broth. We wanted to achieve a similarly satisfying dish at home without the hot pot so we turned to our trusty Dutch oven. The typical dashi broth is made from glutamate-rich kombu seaweed and bonito (tuna) flakes. After a good deal of testing, we found that adding a second variety of seaweed (wakame), fish sauce, rice wine, and sugar replicated the fishy depth of the bonito. Shabu-shabu typically includes carrots, napa cabbage or bok choy, enoki or shiitake mushrooms, tofu, and chrysanthemum leaves. Luckily, the hard-to-find chrysanthemum leaves were not missed when omitted. We preferred bok choy to cabbage and the fuller flavor of shiitake mushrooms to enoki; adding the vegetables right to the broth infused them with flavor and resulted in a cohesive soup. A dollop of homemade sesame sauce was the perfect garnish. We prefer the flavor of red miso here, but white miso can be substituted. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant (about 1 minute) and then remove the pan from the heat so the seeds won’t scorch.

  • Yield: 6 Servings
  • Total Time: 1 Hour


Sesame Sauce
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ teaspoon water
  • 8 ounces dried udon noodles
  • Salt
  • ½ ounce kombu, rinsed
  • ½ ounce wakame, rinsed
  • ½ cup mirin
  • ¼ cup fish sauce
  • 1½ teaspoons sugar
  • 3 heads baby bok choy (4 ounces each), sliced ⅛ inch thick
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced ⅛ inch thick
  • 14 ounces soft tofu, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced thin
How to Make It
    For the Sesame Sauce
  1. Stir all ingredients together in bowl until smooth.
  2. For the Soup
  3. Bring 8 cups water to boil in Dutch oven. Add noodles and 1½ teaspoons salt and cook, stirring often, until tender. Drain noodles, rinse well under cold water, and set aside.
  4. Bring 9 cups water, kombu, and wakame to brief boil in now-empty Dutch oven over high heat. Off heat, discard seaweed.
  5. Stir in mirin, fish sauce, and sugar and bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Stir in bok choy and carrots and cook until crisp-tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in tofu, mushrooms, and noodles and let heat through, about 1 minute. Drizzle individual portions with sesame sauce before serving.

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