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Chicken Meatball Hot-Pot

Written by: Savanna Frimoth

January 29th , 2024

Chicken Meatball Hot-Pot

Envision yourself in a warm tent, next to the wood stove. The logs crackle, but there are few other sounds. A fresh blanket of snow rests on the ground in pillowy mounds. The Ponderosa pines surrounding your campsite sway with a silent breeze. The sky is crisp and clear, but more winter weather is on the way. You and your camping companions’ only plan for the day is a gentle snowshoe through the surrounding woods followed by a nourishing late lunch of nabe.  

Nabe is a Japanese dish, cooked in a communal pot and shared among friends. The Japanese word “nabe” broadly references a variety of hot pot dishes, but is also often connected with the word “donabe” which means clay pot, a traditional cooking dish. We referenced a delicious recipe from Naoko Takei Moore, the owner of TOIRO, a shop supplying authentic artisanal donabe pots. Whether you find yourself at a snowy campsite or gathered around your dining table, nabe offers a chance to reconnect with friends over a shared meal.




Tsukune / Chicken Meatballs: 

  • 1 pound (450 g) ground chicken 
  • 1 tablespoon sake 
  • 3 tablespoons beaten egg 
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger 
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper 
  • 1 tablespoon katakuriko (potato starch) 


  • 1 qt (1 liter) dashi 
  • 2 tablespoons sake 
  • 2 tablespoons mirin 
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) miso 
  • 2 - 3 teaspoons white tamari or soy sauce 
  • 8 oz (240 g) mixed mushrooms such as shimeji, maitake, and enoki 
  • 14 oz (400 g) soft or medium firm tofu, cut into 8 cubes 
  • 4 oz (120g) spinach, cut into bite-size length 
  • Roasted golden or white sesame seeds, ground 
  • Shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven spice powder) 


Combine the ingredients for the tsukune (chicken meatballs) in a medium bowl. Knead by hand until the mixture is smooth and shiny. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. We suggest completing this step before heading to the campsite.  

Bring the dashi to a simmer in nabe over medium-high heat. Add the sake and mirin. Whisk in the miso and 2 teaspoons soy sauce. Adjust the seasoning by adding more soy sauce, if necessary. 

Divide the tsukune mixture into 12 - 15 and form into balls by using both hands. Add the balls to the simmering broth, followed by the mushrooms and tofu. 

Cover with lid and bring back to simmer. Turn down the heat to medium. Continue to cook until everything is cooked through. Add the raipini. Cover and cook for 1 minute. Turn off the heat and serve immediately. Top with ground sesame seeds and shichimi togarashi as a garnish.