Short notice dinner party. Pronounced Nah beh and is the Japanese version of the Chinese Steam Boat which is a kind of stock based interactive casserole. It always amazes me that the closest Western food came to this is the Fondue as a way of letting the cook having a look in at the dinner table. The price to pay for this extra social interaction is the kitchen nazi must yield control of the cooking process to others and I have to confess that this is a difficult thing to do. I’ve almost lost a friend because they forked their sausages before they were cooked, taken mortal offense at somebody using salt, and so on…

Nabe is just shopping and chopping.

From the fish markets: some crabs, prawns, fish bones and, in lieu of salmon and cod, Spanish Mackeral Steaks.

From the markets: savoy cabbage (the big chinese ones), carrots, bamboo shoots, daikon (giant white radish/geisha), spinach, spring onions, deep fried tofu, shiitake mushrooms.

From the freezer: some chicken wings and breast.

All are chopped up into bite sized pieces. The larger they are the longer they’ll take to cook. Crabs peeled and chopped, prawns kept whole but the pooh tube wangled out with a skewer. Chicken wings – very tip of wings chopped off and separated into wing bit and drumstick bit. Chicken breast was defrosted in the microwave and stuffed up by crossing the razor thin rubicon from frozen to well done. Should have been raw. Gah

Gear: I’ve got the real deal, an earthenware nabe pot, and a table top gas burner to keep it bubbling. The latter is handy- take it camping. The basic need though is a heat source and something to cook the food in so Mum’s orange crock pot, an electric frypan, or a fondue set will do. Everyone needs a bowl, some chopsticks, and a spoon. Leave a bowl out for bits of prawn and bone.

STOCK: Water- the stock gets its flavour from the ingredients as it’s cooked OR a head start can be given by a piece of konbu soaked in the water for half and hour, bought to the boil and then taken out. Fish bones or head simmered for a while and also taken out. Or traditionally, some dashi and a splash of mirin.

DIPPING STUFF Lemon Soy: half a cup of soy and a tablesoon or two of lemon juice.

Grated Daikon and chopped spring onions.

That was it. Everything went on the table and the ingredients were put into the pot in dribs and drabs. They come out when cooked and dipped in the bowls with some dipping stuff in it. Once we’d had enough, a brief pause, and I added cooked short grain rice to make a (no really) tasy gruel.

ABRIDGED Version: Sorry this really shouldn’t look so hard. Chuck seafood, chicken, and veges in a pot, simmer and then help yourself maybe with some soy sauce with bit of lemon juice in it.