Cook the Book: Sumo Wrestler Hot Pot

Cook the Book: Sumo Wrestler Hot Pot

"This was another hot pot that allegedly serves four but was easily devoured by two people—whose combined weight isn't even close to sumo-worthy."

[Flickr: pyramis]

20090928japanesehotpots.jpgMarathon runners carbo-load on giant plates of pasta before a big race. Weightlifters have been known to chug down protein shakes made with raw eggs in order to bulk up.

But what do the hulking sumo wrestlers of Japan eat to bolster their elephantine stature? Chankonabe, of course. It's a sumo-sized hot pot filled with plenty of protein and vegetables, usually prepared by junior wrestlers for their senior counterparts, alongside plenty of beer and rice for added calories.

I'm not planning to take anyone on in the sumo ring in the near future but I just had to try this Sumo Wrestler Hot Pot from Japanese Hot Pots by chef Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat. It's a chicken broth-based soup with ginger and scallion accented dumplings, thinly sliced pork belly, and a whole mess of mushrooms, cabbage, onions, and tofu.

The two chicken components in this recipe are intriguing. The chicken stock is just chicken wings and bones boiled in water—not even a sprinkle of salt added, so you just taste the clean, pure essence of chicken. The chicken dumplings are also fantastic, with just enough ginger to give them a kick, a healthy dose of red miso for added umami, and an egg for binding. The vegetables and tofu are flavored perfectly from the chicken broth and the dumplings. Added last, the thinly sliced pork belly is cooked just long enough to become perfectly tender.

The dish is finished with yuzu kosho, a magical condiment that I had never experimented with before. Tangy and slightly spicy, the mix of yuzu, chiles, and salt brings all the hot pot elements together—the sourness cuts though the meat-rich soup wonderfully, and the slight spice leaves you wanting more.

This was another hot pot that allegedly serves four but was easily devoured by two people—whose combined weight isn't even close to sumo-worthy. Try the recipe at home and the next time you see a sumo match and wonder just how those guys get so big, you'll know the reason is simple—by eating very, very well.

Win 'Japanese Hot Pots'

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Japanese Hot Pots to give away this week.

  • Yield:4


  • For the chicken dumplings:
  • 2 chicken legs and thighs (1 to 1 1/2 pounds) boned, skinned, and coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon aka (red) miso
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • For the broth:
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup sake
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 small head green cabbage (about 1 pound), cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 package (about 1/2 pound) firm tofu, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 negi (Japanese onion), sliced on an angle into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium Spanish onion (about 3/4 pound), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms (about 8 pieces), stemmed
  • 3 1/2 ounces (half of a 200-gram package) enoki mushrooms, trimmed and pulled apart
  • 1/2 pound fresh pork belly, thinly sliced 1/8 inch thick (ask your butcher) and slices halved
  • 4 tablespoons green yuzu kosho, for accent


  1. 1.

    To make the chicken dumplings, place the chicken, ginger, miso, egg, and scallions in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse until the mixture becomes a coarse paste. Transfer to a bowl and form into a 1-inch-thick patty, which will make the scooping simpler and faster. Set aside.

  2. 2.

    Prepare the broth by combining the chicken stock, sake, and salt in a bowl; reserve.

  3. 3.

    Place the cabbage and garlic in the bottom of a hot pot. Pour in the broth. Cover the hot pot and bring it to a boil over high heat. Uncover the pot, and decrease the heat to medium so the liquid simmers.

  4. 4.

  5. 5.

    Add the tofu, negi, onion, shiitake mushrooms, and enoki mushrooms to the hot pot, arranging each ingredient in a separate, neat bunch. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Uncover the pot and lay the pork belly slices on top of the other ingredients. When the pot returns to a boil, simmer until the pork belly is cooked through, about 5 minutes more.

  6. 6.

    Transfer the hot pot to the dining table. Serve the ingredients together with the broth in small bowls, accenting with yuzu kosho.

  7. 7.

    Suggested side dish: Ramen