Japanese Shabu-Shabu: A Healthy, Plant-based, and Fun Recipe!

Shabu-shabu is a traditional Japanese dish that uses a kelp-based broth, called “kombu dashi.” Hail the almighty kelp! Kelp is a type of brown seaweed which is used extensively in Japanese, Korean, and Chinese cuisine.  It is an amazing detoxifying food that is extremely sustainable – it grows 10-12 inches per day in the ocean! It is a powerhouse of important vitamins and minerals, including:

  • Omega-3s to prevent heart disease
  • Iodine for optimizing the thyroid, which regulates our metabolism
  • Vitamin B12 for keeping our red blood cells and nervous system healthy (a rare vitamin in plant-based food!)
  • Calcium for strong bones when combined with Vitamin D (which we can get from sunshine or the mushrooms in this dish)
  • Magnesium for keeping nerves, muscles, and bones healthy

Shabu-shabu originated from the Chinese hot pot, and was developed and popularized by a restaurant in Osaka, Japan. The name was trademarked in 1955, and it is an onomatopoeia, derived by the “swish-swish” sound made when food is stirred in a cooking pot. 

Traditionally this dish is served with thinly sliced meat or vegetables, which are submerged in the hot broth, then dipped in a ponzu or sesame sauce. The remaining broth is combined with rice and eaten last.

I have created a whole food plant-based (healthy Vegan) version of shabu-shabu, and you don’t have to live in Japan to enjoy it! Traditionally, you would need a special cooking pot, in which the diner dips the thinly sliced food. This recipe uses vegetable sticks that are slightly cooked (so they stay somewhat crunchy) before serving.

Shabu-Shabu Ingredients
Shabu-Shabu Ingredients

Both the kelp (kombu) and a healthy, authentic version of ponzu sauce may be challenging to find. The Emerald Cove brand of kombu works well and can be found at Whole Foods. I have not been able to find an authentic and healthy version of ponzu sauce at any grocery story. Some grocery stores sell Kikkoman brand ponzu sauce, but its ingredients include sugar, “natural flavors,” and preservatives. However, Yuzu brand from Japan doesn’t include any of those ingredients. You can buy both kombu and Yuzu brand ponzu sauce on Amazon.com:*

Kombu: https://amzn.to/3cFS3Kr

Ponzu sauce: https://amzn.to/2LAbLeH

Shabu-Shabu

Libby Rome
Japanese hotpot dish made simple and healthy
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 pieces kombu 2-inch pieces, see Amazon link above
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms shiitake for the most authentic
  • 8 cups vegetables squash, bell peppers, carrots, celery, etc., cut into sticks
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 cups rice brown rice for healthiest, white rice for most authentic
  • 4 tbsp ponzu sauce see Amazon link above

Instructions
 

  • Add water, kombu, and mushrooms to the pot.
  • Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the kombu and add the soy sauce.
  • Add the vegetables to the simmering broth (dashi) and let cook for 5 minutes.
  • Serve a bowl of the broth (dashi) with vegetables and a side of ponzu sauce. Set aside 1/2 cup rice per serving. Use chopsticks to remove each veggie piece and dip in ponzu sauce. Enjoy! When all the vegetables are gone, add the rice to the remaining broth and use a spoon to enjoy as a yummy soup.
Keyword dashi, healthy, japanese, kelp, kombu, mushrooms, plant-based, shabu-shabu, unique, wfpb
Dipping Shabu-Shabu vegetables in ponzu sauce
Dipping the vegetables in ponzu sauce

This healthy dish is made with only whole, plant-based ingredients, and is oil-free, flour-free, sugar-free, and virtually fat-free. The kelp, mushrooms, and vegetables make it super nutritious, and the rice makes sure your belly feels full when you’re done enjoying the flavors.

On top of all those benefits, it provides a unique and FUN Japanese experience, without even needing to travel! I hope you will enjoy it!

* Note that the Amazon links use my affiliate account, so I get a small portion of the proceeds. I only link to personally recommended products.

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