This post is the second of three posts about Leapling dinners. Read post one here.
Imagine you are a hair stylist, with several decades of professional experience, and as your appointment sits down, you hand over your scissors, a mirror, some gel and firmly wish them “Good luck.” This is how I feel serving nabe.
Nabe is family of one-pot Japanese steamboat dishes mostly cooked on the dining table. The most important aspect of nabe is that it is believed that eating from one pot makes for closer relationships. According to WikiPedia, “The Japanese thus say, Nabe (w)o kakomu (鍋を囲む、’sitting around the pot’), implying that sharing nabemono will create warm relations between the diners who eat together from the shared pot.”
After our North Beach Citizens dinner, Carmen and I visited the Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival, triggering thoughts of Chankonabe, and a variant of shabu shabu was born as the Leapling meal. Our simmering pots are built to hold two broths, which we filled with soy milk with white miso and spicy chicken broth. We served a huge inventory of raw ingredients: thinly sliced beef, pork, and chicken; cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, bok choi, sweet peas; crab, lobster, shrimp; tofu, noodles. The idea is in the broth, you may cook the food you prefer, how you like, in the order you like. Some think the conversation affects what is eaten, or vise versa, and clearly patterns and trends happen from watching others. One thing is sure, as the meal progresses, the broths simmer down, reducing into thicker, stronger, well-developed flavors, intensifying from all the ingredients being cooked in it. Traditionally this is broth is eaten last, making a nice punctuation to the passage traveled together.
Here are some images from the 2010 Leapling dinner at E43.