Saturday, February 11, 2012

Tounyuu Nabe 豆乳鍋 Soy Milk Hot Pot

Everyone loves hot pot! Though, I guess "hot pot" is actually based on the Chinese name of the manner of preparation: 火鍋 huoguo, meaning "fire pot". Notice that the Japanese nabe uses the same character as guo, and also means pot. Here, I'm just using a sauté pan to cook the ingredients before eating, since I don't have an electric hot pot, which would be great to have.

Niu Tou brand sha cha sauce
Usually the hot pot is kept hot while you eat out of it and add uncooked meats and vegetables to the pot as food is eaten. Finally, at the end, you add noodles to the broth to round out the meal. My family usually did cellophane noodles, though I know with nabe, udon noodles are popular. Then there's the dip component. Taiwanese people like to have some 牛頭 niu tou (Bull Head) brand sha cha sauce with raw egg to dip the cooked foods in. You can also just eat the food straight, as the broth will flavor it, too.

Tounyuu nabe is a soy milk soup hot pot, with dashi and potentially miso. I remember the first time I had it while I was in Japan and became somewhat obsessed with the soy milk addition to the broth. I'd never come across a soy milk hot pot before then. You can't use Western versions of soy milk, like Silk, however, because they try to make soy "milk" more like milk by adding thickening agents and other flavoring (like vanilla). You also have to be sure to use an unsweetened soy milk instead of the sweetened kind, both of which are commonly available in Asian supermarkets.

Grace Young notes, in Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen, that the name "milk" is misused in this case. I agree. I assume the companies and people behind the development and marketing of soy milk to Western audiences were trying to make it more familiar and acceptable. It seems to have backfired, though, as I've heard many people say that their problem with soy milk is that they're expecting milk and instead get something very different. On the other hand, I can't think of a good word to use instead of milk for 漿 jiang. Jiang, like many Chinese words, can be transliterated in several ways, meaning broth, juice, syrup, or even other fluids.

For this dish, I referenced these two recipes. The pic at the top is before I added in the fish on top, for gentle cooking at the end. Neatly arranging the food in the pot is a Japanese nabe thing to do. Meanwhile, in Taiwanese and Chinese hot pot, we just heat up the broth and then start tossing food in to cook. Same with the Mongolian hot pot I had on my last trip back to Seattle.

sliced cod fillets

the food, arranged, before adding broth


  1. It looks great! My daughter and I always order the soymilk/miso broth when we go eat Shabu Shabu. So delicious!
    Interestingly, Vietnamese use the term "sua dau nanh" for soymilk. Literally, it translates to soybean milk. I'm not sure if the term is completely a Western invention. Maybe we can blame the French? :)

    1. Thanks for reading!
      You know, that's a good point. In addition, staring me right in the face is the Japanese phrase for soy milk, "tounyuu", which is literally "(soy) bean milk".
      My marketing theory is looking pretty weak, now, heh.