Hype!: Shabu Shabu

April 23, 2011 § 1 Comment

Shabu Shabu

My boyfriend’s mother came into town yesterday to visit. We ate lunch and then headed North to Niles, IL to visit Super H-Mart, which is probably my favorite place in Illinois. Why? Because I am in love with Korean food and being at Super H-Mart makes me feel like I’m right back in Korea. They even have a little food court with real Korean dishes.

Anyway, they sell all sorts of things: all kinds of Asian vegetables, 20 pound bags of rice, huge buckets (and I mean BUCKETS) of Kimchi, fish right from the tank, as well as all kind of sauces, snacks, and chips. It’s amazing, and I get giddy every time I go. Since it’s out in the North suburbs, however, that hasn’t been very often since we’ve actually moved here. Do you get the point that I was ecstatic about having the chance to go?

Kimchi

Our delicious Kimchi.

We had only intended to pick up delicious Shin Ramyun and a new 20 pound rice bag, since we had run out, but Adam said, “Hey, let’s check out the meat section and see if we can do a little regular grocery shopping”.

The first package of meat he picks up is labeled Bulgogi, which he’s familiar with since it’s DELICIOUS. He recognizes the name.

Bulgogi label

For me, however, it’s the shape and cut of meat that brings back memories. In the package was a row of strips of meat cut very thin. They looked gorgeous. They looked fresh. They looked exactly like what I’d eaten with Shabu Shabu in a restaurant in Wonju (the city where I stayed).

Meat

Shabu Shabu, also sometimes called Hot Pot, is a fabulous dish to eat with friends. In the restaurant where I first encountered it, we chose a broth and sat around a table with a burner in the middle. A huge pot was brought out with the broth. Then a plate full of leafy vegetables and mushrooms was brought out along with a smaller plate of the meat we had chosen. The broth was brought to a boil, the vegetables thrown in to simmer, and whenever we wanted a piece of meat, we picked it up with chopsticks and dipped it in. It cooked within seconds.
Shabu Shabu 2

And you’re thinking: that’s it? You dip some stuff into water, it cooks, and you eat it? No, that’s not it! Along with vegetables and meat, there were a few rice cakes. There were also dishes of sauce to add extra flavor if the broth wasn’t enough. The best part, though, was after we’d finished eating the first part, the server brought out a tray of flour-covered noodles that we dumped into the pot. They soaked up all the broth and made it into something like gravy. Then we ate those.

I love the tradition of eating something broth-y, being done with that meal, and then concocting another meal from using the left over broth with rice or noodles. Two for one! No waste! It’s just a winning situation all over.

AND THE BEST PART IS: we bought all the ingredients we need to make shabu shabu right here at home! We picked up that meat, some bok choy, some bean sprouts, enoki mushrooms.

Shabu Shabu Gang

Our Shabu Shabu gang.

Today, we conserved a spice packet and the two vegetable packets from our ramen lunch to save for the broth, which we’ll make mostly with vegetable bouillon cubes  and maybe some soy sauce. We’ll cook it on the stove and stand over the stove eating it. Adventure eating at its best, without ever leaving the apartment. All I really want to buy before Sunday is a pack of those flour-covered noodles.

So, that’s what I’m excited for. If you’re interested in the recipe I checked out, click here. I’m actually thrilled to have found that blog in general, because as you can see on the side, there’s a whole list of Korean recipes. They keep the ingredients pretty low-key, too, unlike fancy Korean cookbooks I’ve picked up, that list names I’ll never recognize and ask me to measure the ingredients in grams. After you try the shabu shabu (which you must), I’d recommend the bibimbahp. It’s my favorite.

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