Updated: December 13, 2017
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Chanko Nabe Recipe: The Quintessential Sumo Hot Pot!

Have you heard of the Chanko Nabe? Most people associate this Japanese dish with Sumo culture as it is an important part of the Japanese traditional wrestlers' diet. However, Chanko Nabe is a pretty popular type of hot pot for people in general as well. It's arguably one of the best winter foods in Japan. Here's how to make it.

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Chanko Nabe Recipe

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This is a standard recipe for about 4 people. All the ingredients may not be easily available in your country so feel free to use substitutes for what you can't find.

I've separated the recipe into 3 sections:

- The vegetables and meat you'll need
- How to make the chicken meatballs that go in the Chanko Nabe hotpot
- How to make the broth

The Vegetables And Meat

These are the basic veggies you add to the broth. Feel free to add some more.
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This is called "hakusai" in Japanese, it's a type of Chinese cabbage. Half of it will do for the recipe. Roughly chop it into 5 cm pieces.
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"Moyashi" or bean sprouts. You'll need about 200-400 grams of these.
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These are "mizuna", you can substitute them with a different kind of leafy green vegetable. A bag of these should do. As you did with the Chinese cabbage, chop them into pieces of about 5 cm.
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One pack of mushrooms. Any kind will do. Japanese often use shiitake or enoki mushrooms.
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200 to 400 grams of chicken thigh meat cut into bite-size pieces. For this recipe, this is the only meat we'll be using but you can also add salmon or codfish for example.

Tori Dango (Chicken Meat Ball)

The chicken meatballs are an important ingredient of the recipe. If you live in Japan, you can find them at your local supermarket. You can make them yourself as well. Here's how.
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You'll need 400 grams of chicken minced meat.
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Half a leek very finely chopped (or a full one if it's small). Japanese ones tend to be quite large.
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Half a medium size carotte also very finely chopped. These are going to be mixed in with the meat.
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One heaping tablespoon of grated fresh ginger.

You'll also need:

About 2/3 of a tablespoon of chicken powdered chicken consomme.
And 2/3 tablespoon of sake (white wine can work too).
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To make the meatballs, simply mix all the above ingredients together and form them.

The Chanko Nabe Broth

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For the broth, you'll need:

900 ml of water
1/2 tablespoon of mirin
1 tablespoon of sake
1/2 tablespoon of salt
1 tablespoon of chicken powdered consomme
1 tablespoon of grated ginger

Making The Chanko Nabe

Now you're ready to make your Japanese Sumo hotpot.
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What people use in Japan is this kind of earthenware pot called "donabe".
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This is how it's eaten in most houses. The donabe is placed on a burner in the middle of the table. The ingredients are first placed in the pot in the most aesthetically nice way, and the broth is then added. The pot is then heated until the ingredients are cooked. People then start picking what they want to eat. Make sure that the chicken meatballs are thoroughly cooked and that the vegetables are not overcooked. Adjust the fire as you dine and add more ingredients to the hotpot as people eat up. As a condiment, you can use a type of citrusy sauce called "ponzu" to add some extra flavor.

Making It With A Regular Pot

Make it in any kind of pot you have if you don't have that kind of apparatus. It loses a bit of its authentic charm but still, you'll get the same great taste of Chanko Nabe.

Add Whatever You Want!

This was a recipe for a basic Chanko Nabe, but don't limit yourself to those ingredients alone! You can add all kinds of different vegetables, cubes of tofu and pieces of different kinds of meat for instance. Lastly, it's quite common to finish the meal by adding udon noodles or rice to the broth too. Try that too!

Where To Eat It In Tokyo

If you're in Tokyo, there are some good restaurants where you can have it. Here are some of the best restaurants serving Chanko Nabe in Tokyo.
Japanese food culture enthusiast. Love to explore new areas and discover local specialties.

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