Legend has it that Genghis Khan kept his army going on shabu-shabu (swish swish) – so-called because of the noise it makes when you put a piece of meat in the pot. Each person cooks the meat themselves, a little like fondue. It’s traditionally made with thinly sliced beef, though it is also great with pork, chicken or prawns. It is prepared on the stove but served in a hot pot, so children will need to be supervised by an adult.
600g (1lb 5oz) beef fillet, sliced as finely as possible and cut into 2cm (3/4 inch) strips
1 litre (13/4 pints) beef or chicken stock
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 carrots, peeled and finely sliced
10 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 bunch of enoki mushrooms, roots cut off
6 spring onions cut in half, lengthways
75g (3oz) udon noodles
1 cube of firm tofu, cut into four pieces
2 pak choi, cleaned and sliced
1/2 Chinese cabbage, cut into strips
For the dipping sauce
1 walnut-sized piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp sesame oil
Set the table first. You will need a small paraffin stove or burner that will keep your pot bubbling. Also lay out chopsticks, bowls and some napkins. Prepare all the ingredients and arrange the beef slices on a plate, awaiting the arrival of your guests. Combine the ingredients for the dipping sauce in a bowl and place on the table.
Once your guests are seated, pour the stock, soy sauce and 500ml (18 fl oz) of water into a large pot (it needs to fit safely on the paraffin stove and be big enough to take all the ingredients). Bring to the boil and then add, in the following order, the carrots, mushrooms and spring onions, the noodles, tofu, pak choi and, lastly, the cabbage.
Carry the pot very carefully to the table and place on the stove. This is where the fun begins – each person should dip a slice of meat into the hot soup until it is cooked to their liking, then you simply dip it into the sauce and devour. Everyone helps themselves to vegetables, tofu and noodles and lastly the broth, which by this point will taste superb as it will have been infused with all those wonderful, exquisite flavours from both the vegetables and the meat.
Sophie Conran’s Soups & Stews (HarperCollins, £14.99).