Philadelphia Catering Company Affordable custom catering for your business

2019 South 26th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19145

Phone: 215.468.0518
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E-mail: info@philadelphiacatering.com
 
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CHEF'S CORNER

 
Shabu Shabu
A Japanese Experience
By Deirdre Cooper

 

As soon as we walked into our friend’s home, we knew we were in for a special evening. We were greeted by a beautifully set table using all of their daughter Karen’s wonderful collection of Japanese bowls. We all had about four bowls in front of us, along with small rests for our chopsticks and small cups for saki. So inviting.
 


 

We had been invited to share in a traditional Japanese Shabu Shabu meal hosted by Karen, and her husband, Philip. They met in Japan while Karen was doing her study abroad and Philip was living there while his dad was serving as Ambassador to Japan from Indonesia, and they have a special place in their hearts for all things Japanese.
 
Shabu Shabu is a hot pot dish of thinly sliced meat and vegetables boiled in water and served with dipping sauces. This description does not begin to describe the elaborate presentation of the dishes. The meat was a beautiful rib-eye roast which was still semi-frozen to make slicing to paper thinness easier. The vegetables, arranged in beautiful bouquets in bowls, consisted of Shitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms which are long, thin-stemmed white mushrooms, grown in clusters, Hakusai (Chinese cabbage, also called Nappa cabbage), Tokyo Negi (long green onions which are a type of leek, ShunGiku (edible, young chrysanthemum leaves), and White/Brown Bunapi mushrooms (White Beech and Brown Beech mushrooms). Traditionally, this meal is served in cool weather due to the hot pots of boiling water on the table. We were all served a bowl of white rice, replenished as necessary, to which we could add the meat and vegetables, either separately or together. The dipping sauces were very interesting, similar to soy based sauces we are familiar with as well as a lovely, creamy sesame sauce.
 


 

 

After briefly boiling pieces of kelp in the water, the kelp was removed, and we dipped the meat in the water for just a few seconds until cooked, the same for the vegetables which were divine. Then we happily dipped and slurped and dropped things into sauces and rice, some of the dropping due to our inexperienced handling of chopsticks, while Karen patiently explained the tradition and the various ways of combining the foods.
 


 

 

Dessert was a lovely, light lemon layer cake served with either coffee or tea. Now, about that coffee...
 


 

This was a revelation to most of us, but it is commonly known and served throughout Southeast Asia. The coffee bean is eaten by weasels (actually called Weasel Coffee in some of the articles I read), they seem to know the sweetest, ripest bean to eat. They slightly chew the soft flesh, then swallow the rest. The bean which is excreted is a treasure to connoisseurs. These beans are processed by thoroughly washing and roasting, resulting in a very rich, very smooth beverage delighting hard core coffee lovers. It is also the most expensive coffee in the world, costing upwards of $100. per pound. Those of us who tried it were duly impressed. I must confess I opted for tea!
 


 

Thank you very much to Karen and Philip for their hospitality, patience and hard work in presenting this lovely dinner to our group of friends. It really was wonderful and we will be talking about it for years to come.
 


 
 
 
Deirdre is a culinary enthusiast who enjoys traveling, gardening, and needless to say works wonders in the kitchen. Deirdre, a native New Yorker, now resides in Ambler with her husband John, and can often be found entertaining family and friends. Enjoy!
 
 
 
 

2018
 
Jan.  | Feb.  | Mar.  | Apr.  | May  | Current Recipe
 
 
2017
 
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2019 South 26th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19145 · Phone: 215.468.0518 · Fax: 215.468.0818 · E-mail:
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