The Best Chinese Shabu-Shabu Recipe

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Chinese Shabu-Shabu RecipeA hot pot broth might just be what you need to get comfortable during a cold winter’s night, and this Chinese shabu-shabu recipe will provide you with an authentic taste at home. Here, we share all you need to create this Asian dish, including the essential ingredients and equipment for making it. Read on below to find out how you can throw a hot pot party anytime you want to warm up your guests’ bellies!   

What is Shabu-Shabu? 

This Japanese hot pot dish consists of thin slices of meat along with root vegetables in a boiling broth served with a variety of sauces. The term shabu-shabu is derived from the “swish swish” sound that we hear as the ingredients are stirred in a stainless steel pot. Unlike other kinds of hot pot cooking, Japanese shabu shabu uses raw ingredients that are cooked tableside — it has since been adapted by other cultures.  

What is a Hot Pot?

In China, hot pots are referred to as “huo guo” and the term hot pot is also used in many other parts of the world. This dish is served from a heat source (such as a fire pot) placed at the center of the table that keeps a pot of stock simmering. Different ingredients and food items are then served throughout the pot for diners to place into the boiling stock.    

Some people will opt for a divided pot which will allow them to serve two different types of broth at the same time. In other words, a hot pot meal is pretty much a communal feast that can be enjoyed by family and friends together.  

Preparing Your Shabu-Shabu Essentials 

To get started with your shabu-shabu party, you’ll need to know a few basics, especially if this is your first time making one.  

Making Your Hot Pot Soup Base

One of the most important parts that make up your hot pot is the soup base; you can go to an Asian supermarket or use homemade broth. Some people might prefer a spicy soup base, so they may add spicy foods but below is a simple clear soup base that will fit everyone’s tastes. 

    • Bones: Chicken carcass or pork neck bones are some of the best kinds to use for your hot pot. 
    • Chicken Broth: You can use store-bought chicken stock or you can use leftovers after cooking chicken. 
    • Daikon: Chinese radish can be a great ingredient for brewing a soup base. 
    • Red Dates: These can add a natural sweetness to your broth.
    • Better-than-Bouillon: This MSG-free addition provides a richer taste and aroma thanks to its roasted chicken flavor. 
    • Basic Seasoning: Add salt, pepper, and sugar according to your tastes. 
    • Spring Onions: You may also use scallions as an alternative.
    • Ginger Slices: Add a great fragrance to your meal and a bit of a spicy kick. 

If you’re looking for a hot broth, you can add ingredients such as Sichuan peppercorns and chili oil, or you can also try the Hai Di Lao Szechuan soup base which you can buy from your local Asian market. 

Essential Hot Pot Ingredients

Most of the ingredients you’ll need can be bought from an Asian grocery store and will consist of the following. 

  • Meat: Look for thin chicken, pork, lamb, or beef slices but you can look for other meats of your choice. When it comes to pork, look for fatty cuts like pork belly or pork loin. If you can’t find these in your local store, you can always just slice your own meat.
  • Meatballs: Apart from thin slices of meat, you can also include beef balls or pork balls. 
  • Seafood Balls: Shrimp balls, fish balls, tofu fish cakes, fish cakes, and other similar items. 
  • Shellfish: Shrimp and prawns are some of the easiest and most delicious shellfish to include in your hot pot but be sure to keep the shells intact. 
  • Fish: This is another popular ingredient to add in shabu-shabu and you can use any kind of fish fillet you like, including tilapia, halibut, sole, flounder, and salmon. 
  • Meatless Protein: Additions like fried tofu can help to soak up your soup base and get a burst of flavor in every bite! 
  • Leafy Vegetables: Be sure to use fresh vegetables like yu choy, Napa cabbage, bok choy, kai lan, or tang oh. Be sure to cut them into small pieces and keep an eye on them because they won’t take long to cook.  
  • Mushrooms: Fresh mushrooms are usually used for shabu-shabu, so look for enoki mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, cremini mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, and anything you love to eat. 
  • Rice and Noodles: Traditionally, noodles are used for shabu-shabu but some people eat it with rice. Look for types of rice noodles such as udon noodles and pho noodles, but dried noodles can also be used. 

Great Shabu-Shabu Sauce

You can use anything you like, but below are some of the most widely used hot pot sauces for shabu-shabu. 

  • Sesame sauce made from sesame paste, grated ginger, and a little bit of sesame oil
  • Sriracha chili sauce
  • Chinese shacha sauce
  • Lee Kum Kee hoisin sauce

There is also a wide range of aromatics, condiments, nuts, and fresh herbs that you can use to make your own dipping sauce. 

  • Pastes: Bean curd, peanut butter, sesame paste
  • Sauces: Oyster sauce, black rice vinegar, light soy sauce 
  • Oil: Chili oil, sesame oil
  • Spices: Ground Sichuan pepper, chili powder
  • Nuts: Toasted peanuts, toasted sesame seeds
  • Aromatics: Scallions, coriander, fresh chili, minced garlic

Basic Equipment You’ll Need 

Below are the simple pieces of equipment you’ll need to get started with your shabu-shabu.  

The Hot Pot 

Not everyone has a split pot but it’s useful if you want to serve both a spicy broth and a clear broth. You can also use the equipment you might already have at home such as an instant pot, electric hot pot, or rice cooker.     

The Heating Element 

You can use a portable burner or gas stove but will need butane gas in order for it to function, which you can buy from Walmart and similar stores. You can also use an induction cooker that you can place in the middle of the table to cook a large pot of your stock. 

Easy Chinese Shabu-Shabu Recipe

Sitting at the dining table and cooking everything in front of you while it’s all fresh is the beauty of hot pot cooking. The best part is you can watch your cooked food become part of the broth right before your eyes! Below is a great recipe that you will love to share with all your friends and family. 


For Soup Base (Clear Broth)

  • 10 cups of chicken broth
  • 10 pitted red dates 
  • 2 lbs of pork neck bones
  • 2 pcs of green onion (white parts only)
  • 1 lb of daikon cut into big chunks

Soup Base Seasoning

  • 1 tbsp. Better-than-Bouillon or as needed
  • ½ tsp. of sugar  
  • ¼ tsp. of pepper 
  • Salt according to your taste


  • 8 oz. of thinly sliced meats of your choice
  • 8 oz. of shrimp with their shells intact
  • 6 oz. of beef balls
  • 6 oz. of fish balls
  • 6 oz. of fish cake
  • 4 oz. of sliced fish fillet 

Meatless Protein

  • 14 oz. of extra firm tofu


  • 6 oz. of your chosen noodles soaked until soft


  • 4 oz. of fresh mushrooms
  • 4 oz. of tang oh
  • 4 oz. of Napa cabbage

Dipping sauce 

  • According to your preferences


When you have all the ingredients you need, it’s time to start your shabu-shabu party! Below are easy step-by-step instructions on how to get started. 

How to Set Up Your Hot Pot 

  1. Setting up your shabu-shabu using a round table is ideal but isn’t completely necessary. 
  2. Place your stove at the center of your table so everyone can easily gain access to it. 
  3. Arrange all the ingredients that fit into one category into one plate. Don’t mix the vegetables with raw food. 
  4. Place all your ingredients around the hot pot but only use enough food for your guests. Keep the rest of the ingredients in your fridge and only serve as needed. 
  5. Set up the utensils you need such as chopsticks — have one set for cooking raw food and another for eating. Doing this will prevent cross-contamination of your food. 

Preparing Your Soup Base 

  1. Pour your chicken broth into a big pot and bring it to a boil. 
  2. Add your pork neck bones, ginger, green onion, red dates, and seasoning. 
  3. Once it starts boiling, lower your heat and allow it to simmer under medium-low heat while partially covered for 2 hours. 
  4. Do a taste test and adjust according to your liking. 
  5. Strain your stock and discard all solids. 

Preparing Your Soup Base Using an Instant Pot Cooker 

  1. Pour your chicken broth into the inner pot of your instant cooker.
  2. Add your pork neck bones, ginger, green onion, red dates, and seasoning. 
  3. Close the lid, turning the pressure release valve to seal it. 
  4. Ensure that it’s set to high pressure and select pressure cooker. 
  5. Set your timer to 45 minutes and do a natural release when finished. 
  6. Do a taste test and adjust according to your liking.
  7. Strain your stock and discard all solids.

Cooking Using a Hot Pot 

  1. Place all the ingredients for your soup broth into your hot pot, then set your stove on medium heat. 
  2. When your soup starts to simmer, don’t switch to high heat; instead maintain it as it is. You can now start placing the ingredients you want to eat into your soup base. 
  3. Your ingredients shouldn’t take too long to cook so be sure to remember everything you put in. 
  4. If you lose something in your soup, don’t use your chopsticks or spoons to get it out, be sure to use a clean ladle instead. 

Tips and Tricks for Your Shabu Shabu 

When you want to have the best shabu-shabu experience and impress your guests with your hot pot prowess, be sure to read the following tips and tricks! 

Allow Your Broth to Boil 

When you want to enjoy the best bowl of shabu-shabu, you need to be patient and only add your dipping items after the broth has begun boiling. It’s also important that you don’t add too much food all at the same time because this will dramatically reduce the temperature of your broth which means it will take even longer to cook them. 

Always Cook the Most Flavorful Items First 

While there are no set rules on which items to cook first, many experts recommend cooking the most tasty food first such as mushrooms, meat, and even seaweed to make your broth even more delicious. 

Save the Starchy Items Towards the End 

Foods that have high starch content can be used to thicken your broth, so be sure to use them towards the end. Be sure not to leave these items longer than needed, which includes sweet potatoes, potatoes, dumplings, and all kinds of noodles. 

Use Bamboo or Wooden Chopsticks 

Avoid using plastic chopsticks since they may not be able to take high heat since the hot pot will also be above boiling point. Unfortunately, metal chopsticks will get too hot for you to hold, so the best choice will be to use wooden or bamboo chopsticks. 


Shabu-shabu is one of Asia’s most loved dishes, and today you cook it from the comfort of your home. Now that you have this recipe, you’ll be able to enjoy individual bowls with your loved ones this hot pot season. Many of the ingredients you’ll need can be sourced from your local Asian store — brewing a warm pot of shabu-shabu is a great way to spend time chatting with your friends and family while enjoying a small bowl of soup.