1 kg/2 lb fillet steak
1 small white Chinese cabbage
12 spring onions (scallions)
2 tender young carrots
500 g/1 lb button mushrooms
2 litres/4 pints/8 cups chicken stock
Sesame seed sauce
4 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons mild white vinegar
8 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce
3 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions (scallions)
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
Cut steak into paper-thin slices. (It is easier to do this if the meat is partially frozen.) Cut cabbage into short lengths. Cut spring onions into bite- sized lengths. Cut carrots into round slices, parboil and drain. Wipe mushrooms with damp paper towels, trim ends of stalks and cut in halves unless mushrooms are very small. Arrange food on serving platter, cover and refrigerate.
At serving time, pour stock into shabu-shabu cooker, cover with lid and fill chimney with glowing coals, or use a tabletop electric pan. Heat and place in the centre of the table within easy reach of everyone. Keep stock simmering throughout the meal, adding more as necessary.
Set each place with a bowl, chopsticks and individual bowl for sauce. Also set a large bowl of hot white rice on the table so guests can help themselves.
Ingredients are picked up with chopsticks and held in the boiling stock until just done, then transferred to individual bowls, dipped in sauce and eaten with rice. Care should be taken not to overcook the food. Steak should be pale pink when cooked and vegetables tender but still crisp.
When all the meat and vegetables are eaten the stock is served as a soup. The bowls should be lifted to the lips and the soup sipped from the bowl Japanese fashion, rather than with a spoon.
Sesame seed sauce: Lightly brown sesame seeds in a dry pan over moderate heat, stirring constantly with a spoon or shaking the pan. Turn on to a plate to cool, then crush using suribachi or a mortar and pestle. Combine with remaining ingredients. Alternatively, put ingredients in container of an electric blender and blend on high speed for a few seconds.
Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)