Cooking Lesson

When a friend asked me how to make my favorite Japanese dish, shabu shabu, I jumped at the chance. I am thrilled that I have a convert to a wonderful cuisine that not all people enjoy. Many think it is strange due to the raw fish and odd flavorings. It is not so if you give it a try. It is quite delicious. I eat out of course, but I love to make it myself. I gather the best recipes and learn the top chefs’ techniques. This is how I “feed” my passion. While I have an extended palate, it likes to indulge in Japanese fare.

Cooking day arrived and I was excited to show my friend the basic ropes. Shabu shabu is not a complicated dish – mostly slicing and dicing. You must have the very best beef you can find and fresh vegetables including the right noodles. And so, the lesson began. We lined up the ingredients on the countertop and started a pot of boiling water. It would be flavored so the vegetables would absorb the flavor. The beef would be cooked raw so the eater could customize the degree of rawness. It cooks super-fast.

It wouldn’t take long so we were both anticipating an imminent meal. I also made some hot green tea to accompany the food. It was worthy of sharing on Facebook. After my friend took on the role of slicing master, we had plenty of vegetables for the shabu shabu. The portions were predetermined and exact. We would use up all that we had on hand. As we were talking and laughing, I got a bit clumsy and knocked most of the goodies on the floor. It was covered with green and orange tidbits. Yikes. There goes lunch. There goes the floor.

In a flash, I brought out the canister vacuum, not unlike these, to take care of the mess so we wouldn’t slip and fall. That would be the only thing worse than losing our ingredients. I tidied up the best I could which was no problem given the power of the little appliance. That’s why I keep it on hand. In minutes, the floor was pristine and we preceded with the lesson – minus the vegetables.

Okay, don’t panic, I thought. The market is just a few steps down the road. My friend volunteered to run the errand to replace the vegetables while I watched the boiling pot. He was back in a jiffy with more than enough to make the dish. We were getting a bit anxious by now – and hungry. The lesson was okay if not a huge success because of the interruption. No matter.

In the end, the shabu shabu was fine. Maybe it tasted particularly good to me because of the fuss and bother. Don’t take this story too seriously and let it deter you from making a fabulous dish. You will quickly see why it is so popular. Some restaurants specialize in it and offer fancy cuts of Kobe beef.