Japan has many “hot pot” dishes. Hot pots are a staple meal that nobody can go without during the cold winter. There are dozens to hundreds of ways you can mix and match the soup and ingredients. Below are the top 7 most famous hot pot dishes in all of Japan!
1. Ishikari Hot Pot (Hokkaido)
First off is the Ishikari Hot Pot from Hokkaido. This is a traditional dish that uses fresh salmon as its main ingredient. It originates from the Ishikari region, where catching salmon has been practiced since the olden times. Aside from salmon, this dish is enjoyed with vegetables and tofu, along with miso soup that uses kelp as its base. This hot pot has a mild, yet rich taste. Ishikari Hot Pot may also be eaten with butter or sake kasu (lees left over from sake production) for an even more profound flavor.
2. Kiritanpo Hot Pot (Akita)
Next up is the traditional hot pot of Akita Prefecture called Kiritanpo. The main ingredient, kiritanpo (rice skewers), is made with cooked rice that has been placed on cedar or bamboo sticks and then grilled on top of charcoal. This is then cut diagonally, and then boiled with chicken and seasonal vegetables to make a simple, yet delicious hot pot.
3. Anko Hot Pot (Ibaraki)
Next up is the Anko Hot Pot from Ibaraki Prefecture. It is a traditional dish that makes use of the innards of a fish called "anko" (anglerfish). These innards are boiled with vegetables and tofu. The soup is typically made with miso paste or soy sauce. The innards of the anglerfish have a mild taste and soft texture. Furthermore, the fish is collagen-rich and has little fat content, which makes it perfect as a healthy, low-calorie dish. The liver of this fish is also served as a popular, delicious dish called "ankimo". This has a rich taste different to other innards.
4. Maru Hot Pot (Kyoto)
The next dish is Maru Hot Pot. "Maru" refers to soft-shelled turtles. Soft-shelled turtles are known in Japan as a luxury food with high nutritional benefits, which is why the Maru Hot Pot is usually served as a high-class dish in restaurants. The turtle is cut into easy-to-eat pieces, simmered with water and sake, and then mixed with soy sauce for flavoring. You may also add in vegetables, but this dish is typically served with just the turtle itself. This dish is simple yet flavorful, and has an exquisite amount of fat.
5. Fuguchiri Hot Pot (Yamaguchi)
The following hot pot makes use of the luxury food, puffer fish. The Fuguchiri Hot Pot makes use of sliced puffer fish, vegetables, and tofu. The soup is made with kelp, along with the bones and head of the fish. When the soup is done, the finished product is enjoyed with ponzu soy sauce (sauce made with citrus juice and soy sauce) and momiji oroshi (cayenne pepper and grated radish). Please enjoy the jelly-like texture, along with the simple yet rich flavor of this dish.
6. Oyster Dote Hot Pot (Hiroshima)
The Oyster Dote Hot Pot makes use of oysters, which are a specialty of Hiroshima. This hot pot is made by spreading miso paste, along with the broth base and spices, to the sides of the pot. One would normally enjoy this dish by eating the oysters and vegetables while the miso paste slowly melts into the soup. This bountiful dish offers a wonderful fragrance thanks to the slightly burnt miso paste, along with the mellow flavor of the oysters.
7. Mizutaki (Fukuoka)
Last but not the least is "Mizutaki", which is a dish originating from Hakata, Fukuoka Prefecture in the Kyushu region. You may find similar dishes in other regions that are prepared by adding in chicken and vegetables after simmering the kelp broth, but this version of "mizutaki" in Fukuoka makes use of bits and pieces of chicken skin and meat with bones, which are then simmered in water. The deliciousness of the chicken seeps through the cloudy soup, which is very rich. One way to enjoy this dish in Hakata would be to place the soup on top of rice to create zosui (rice gruel).
The dishes included in this article are ones you may typically find at izakayas (Japanese bars) and specialty restaurants. Please give them a try!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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