Cooling down with cold pork shabu shabu

Cold pork shabu shabu, better known as pork rei-shabu, is a dish that often appears on the dining table in summer. Ponzu or creamy sesame go well with the lightly boiled sliced pork as regular dipping sauces, called tare.

Cooking specialist Keiko Iwasaki has helped broaden the repertoire of sauces, adding variety to this simple summer recipe.

For this dish, it's popular to add vegetables on the side such as mizuna leaves, lettuce, cucumbers and bell peppers.

"Pork shabu shabu is a great dish during the sweltering summer as extra pork fat comes off as it's cooked in boiling water, and the dish comes with a lot of vegetables," Iwasaki said.

Iwasaki's recipe calls for plenty of vegetables in the sauces, too. One of them, toro toro sauce, which incorporates okura, myoga Japanese ginger buds and nagaimo Chinese yam, is like a salad in its own right. Crunchy nagaimo and sticky okura create an original combination of textures. The sauce is a bit sour but has a mild taste.

Nira chives and soy sauce uses chili pepper and gochujang Korean red chili paste. The mouthwatering sauce works well for yakiniku grilled meat, too.

Tomato and soy sauce is made by mincing an entire tomato and mixing it with balsamic vinegar and garlic.

"Soy sauce goes well with balsamic vinegar," Iwasaki said. Sweetness and umami from the tomato add depth to the sauce.

Acidic or spicy dishes help make up the tastes of summer. Iwasaki said she came up with ume plum and soy milk sauce by arranging a soy milk soup stock used for tonyu nabe stew, which is popular in winter. The refreshing sour flavor of ume fills the mouth, followed by umami from the soy milk.

Curry powder is a secret ingredient of the vivid yellow onion ethnic sauce.

Any leftovers can be used for salads or cold tofu.

Cold pork shabu shabu is good for elderly people who usually don't have much appetite for meat. To eat well in the summer season when appetite wanes, Iwasaki recommends dredging the slices of pork in starch to keep the meat tender before plunging them into boiling water.

"That'll keep the meat from being flaky and help it maintain its texture," Iwasaki said.

Instead of cooling the meat down with iced water, which will make pork fat congeal, rinse it quickly with room-temperature water and drain.

Recipes of sauces for cold pork shabu shabu

Following are five recipes by Keiko Iwasaki, with ingredients serving two each.

Toro toro sauce

1. Boil and chop 2 okura. Chop 1 myoga bud, as well.

2. Peel 100g nagaimo, put in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin.

3. Put the nagaimo into a bowl and mix with 2 tbsp dashi stock, 1 tsp vinegar, 1 tsp mirin and 1/4 tsp salt. Add okura and myoga into the bowl.

Nira chive and soy sauce

1. Chop 1/4 chili pepper, mince 20g nira chives.

2. Mix 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp gochujang, 1 tsp vinegar and 1 tsp sugar in a bowl.

3. Add nira, a little minced garlic, chili pepper, 1 1/2 tsp ground sesame and 1 tsp sesame oil.

Tomato and soy sauce

1. Remove stem end and seeds of 1 tomato and mince. Put into a bowl.

2. Add a little minced garlic, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp balsamic vinegar and a bit of pepper and stir.

Ume plum and soy milk sauce

1. Remove seeds of 2 ume plums and chop them up. Put into a bowl.

2. Add three-fourths cup soy milk, 1 tsp vinegar and 1 tsp mirin and mix.

3. Add 2 roughly chopped shiso leaves to the bowl and season with salt.

Onion ethnic sauce

1. Mince 1/4 onion and chop 1/2 chili pepper. Put into a bowl.

2. Add a little minced garlic, 2 tsp nam plaa Thai fish sauce and 2 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1/2 tsp sugar, 2 pinches curry powder and 1 tbsp water and stir.