Prime beef is cut into paper-thin strips and dipped into a hot broth for a few seconds. A special dip made from sesame sauce or ponzu-soy sauce (a mixture of soy sauce and citron juice) gives the meat an exotic flavour. Not only beef, but also onions, Chinese cabbages, tofu, mushrooms, carrots and noodles are cooked in the broth.
Shabushabu is a very popular Japanese dish that has its origins in China. It is said that Genghis Kahn used a pot like this while leading caravans across the Mongolian highlands. The pot has an opening at the center into which coals were piled. Some restaurants still use charcoal today, but most use gas burners. Dashi is boiled in the pot at the table, and beef that has been especially cut for use in shabushabu is briefly swished in the boiling broth and dipped into special sauces before being eaten. The name “shabushabu” is said to be the sound of the swishing motion.
Only the best grade roast is used in this dish, which is why it is considered high-class cuisine. In addition, the beef is cut paper-thin, so a considerable amount is needed to satisfy a hearty appetite. Given the present high price of beef in Japan, most people cannot afford to have shabushabu more than once in a while.
To eat Shabushabu, first dip one slice of beef at a time into the dashi and swish it for a few seconds. The beef should then be dipped into a sesame sauce or ponzu soy sauce, a mixture of soy sauce and citron juice. You will be provided with condiments like baby scallions and spicy grated daikon radish that you may add to the sauces.
After cooking several pieces of meat, some foam will appear on the surface of the water this should be skimmed off periodically with the special spoon provided. After you have finished with the beef, put in the vegetables, beginning with the hard ones, and eat them as they finish cooking. Finally, you may add udon noodles to the broth.
Once you start eating, you won’t want to stop.