International / Main Dishes

Japanese Winter Dish – Crab Hot Pot & Porridge

Crab hot pot is a very popular Japanese winter dish. Seasonal seafood and vegetables make a delicious broth, which you can also use to make a rich crab flavored porridge after you’ve eaten the hot pot.

Hot pot is an easy dish to make that is often eaten in winter. All I need to do is prepare the veggies, broth, and meat / seafood and cook on the dining table as we eat. Among the many kinds of hot pots, crab hot pot is considered one of the most luxurious. I like to use red king crab because they are meaty and full of flavor. 

Recipe for crab hot pot:

I normally use napa cabbage, leek, tofu, asian mushrooms, konnyaku (or shirataki), and raw red king crab legs. You can substitute the veggies to suit your taste or to use up any scrap veggies in your fridge. For example, sometimes I use onions instead of leek or omit konnyaku and asian mushrooms if I cannot find them. Some people use carrots and other leafy veggies but napa cabbage is a must! For this particular crab hot pot recipe, I use the following ingredients:

  • Red king crab
  • Salmon
  • Napa cabbage
  • Leek
  • Silken tofu
  • Shimeji mushrooms
  • Konnyaku (shirataki)

1. Make broth

I use natural ingredients to make the broth for this crab hot pot – crab legs, Dashi pack (fish stock pack) and konbu (dried seaweed). Put water, crabs legs, dashi pack, and konbu in a pot, bring to a boil and cook for about 15-20 min. Once cooked, take out the dashi pack and set aside the crab meat. You can leave the konbu in the broth as it can be eaten. No extra salt needed because the crab contains a sufficient amount of salt already. *Make sure you wash off any sand from the crab if you see any.

2. Cut veggies

While making the broth, let’s cut the veggies and tofu. I was taught to cut the napa cabbage using the Sogi giri method – hold the knife at a 20-30 degree angle and slice the cabbage thinly. But I tend to get too lazy to use Sogi giri for each leaf so I start chopping them into 1-2 inch width pieces all at once. Also, cut the white part of the leek into 1 inch pieces and the tofu into 1-2 inch cubes. 

3. Cook hot pot – first batch

Place the first batch of crab, salmon and other ingredients in to the pot. You don’t need to fit all of each ingredient in at once, just 1/2 or 1/3 of the amount. We usually cook several batches until all the ingredients are gone or we are full. When placing ingredients into the pot, try to layout them out nicely like in the pictures below!

And cook with the lid on for about 15 min or until napa cabbages soften.

4. Serve and eat

I usually cook the hot pot at our dinner table using a portable gas stove or induction heater. But you can always cook it on stove top as I did in the photo above since I didn’t want the little one to touch the pot. 

Ponzu – a citrus seasoned soy sauce – is often eaten with hot pot. You can either dip the veggies and crab in the sauce or pour a little bit into your bowl. Optionally, you can add Ichimi or Shichimi – Japanese hot pepper & spices – if you like a bit of spiciness. Remember not to serve too much of the broth because we want to use it for the other batches and the porridge at the end. 

Do you see the utensil I’m using to take crab meat out of the shell? It’s called a crab spoon/fork! It’s such a useful tool that I always use in Japan when I have crab hot pot!

5. Second and third batch

Before moving onto the next batch, make sure you eat all the veggies and seafood in the pot but keep some seafood for the porridge (about 1 cup). Repeat #3~4 until it’s all gone or everyone is full. 

Keep any leftover broth for the last dish – a crab porridge

After every hot pot meal, I make porridge using the leftover broth. The broth after hot pot is what I call golden soup stock. It’s super rich in flavor from all the seafood and veggies. In Japan, we call this porridge “Shime” – like a closing ritual to our meal.

This is the leftover soup from our hot pot (the photo below). Make sure to save it! This is the golden broth, an important soup base to make our crab porridge.

Recipe for crab porridge

To make porridge, I use cooked rice, an egg, green onions and about 1 cup of seafood.

First, bring the broth to a boil and add cooked rice & spread evenly. You can use cold rice or even frozen rice. If it’s frozen, cook covered for about 3-5 min under low heat.

Beat an egg and pour over the rice mixture – this egg works as an extra layer to cook the porridge. The pictures below show how my mom & grandma pour egg onto rice. They use a serving spoon with holes to slowly and evenly spread the egg onto the rice. In this way, I can avoid the egg from clumping together. But if you don’t have this kind of spoon, no big deal. Just gently pour it in.

Then, top with crab meat & green onions and cook covered for about 5 min under low heat. *If you like the green onions more cooked, feel free to add them into the soup before adding the rice and cook them a little bit more in advance.

After 5 min… Ta-da! Porridge is done!

After cooking, serve in individual bowls. Pour about 1/4 tsp of Ponzu & Japanese hot pepper if you like. (I personally like crab porridge without ponzu so that I can enjoy the crab taste more!) Seaweed is a good topping option as well.

It’s best to eat right after it’s cooked but if you would like to save some for later, rice will gradually absorb the soup and the porridge will get clumpy. In that case, mix in some water when reheating.

Recommended ingredients & tools:

  • Bonito Dashi pack – Use this pack to make fish soup stock which is often used in Japanese dishes. This Kuraha brand is without a doubt the best.
  • Konbu (seaweed) – Dried seaweed (kelp), great for its flavor. Mixing bonito dashi and konbu dashi can increase umami!
  • Ponzu – Citrus seasoned soy sauce.
  • Ichimi or Shichimi –  – Japanese hot pepper. Ichimi is ground hot pepper and shichimi is a 7-spice mix that includes ground hot pepper.
  • Shirataki (konnyaku) noodle – Zero carbs!

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Crab Hot Pot & Crab Porridge

Japanese crab hot pot recipe using red king crab, salmon, and veggies. And crab porridge recipe using leftover broth! Perfect dish for cold winter days.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 4 people


  • Japanese clay pot (regular pot works too)


Crab Hot Pot

  • 1 dashi pack
  • 1 dried konbu …optional
  • 4 cups water
  • 2.5 lb red king crab …chop in half if legs are too long to fit in the pot.*Make sure you wash off any sand from the crab if you see any.
  • 0.75-1 lb salmon …optional. Other seafood works too!
  • 1/2 large napa cabbage …chop to 1-2 in. width.
  • 2 leek …use white part, chop to 1-2 in. width.
  • 1 pack silken tofu …cut into 1-2 in cubes. Firm tofu works but I prefer silken.
  • 1 pack shirataki/konnyaku
  • 1 pack shimeji mushuroom …oyster mushroom, shiitake mushroom or enoki mushroom are great for hot pots, too.

Crab Porridge (after eating hot pot)

  • 2 cups cooked rice …sushi rice or medium Calrose rice
  • 1 egg …beaten
  • 2-3 green onion …chop
  • 1 cup cooked seafood …save some crab meat and salmon from the hot pot
  • left over soup stock

Optional sauce & spice

  • Ponzu
  • Japanese Hot Pepper (Ichimi or Shichimi)


Prep : Broth for Crab Hot Pot

  • Add water, dashi pack, konbu and crab in a clay pot and boil under medium-high heat for about 15-20 min, covered. Take out crab & dashi pack. Broth is ready.

Crab Hot Pot

  • Place crab, napa cabbage, leek, salmon, tofu, mushrooms & shirataki in the pot and cook for about 15 min or until napa cabbage gets tender, covered under medium high heat. (No need to fit all ingredients in at once since you can make multiple batches. I usually use about 1/2-1/3 of each ingredient per batch.)
  • Serve in individual bowls and enjoy with ponzu, hot pepper. Cooked rice will be perfect to eat with hot pot.
  • Repeat #1-2 until you get full or use all the ingredients but remember to save about 1 cup of seafood for the porridge. Make sure to scoop everything out before moving onto the next batch.

Crab Porridge ("Shime" = closure)

  • Boil the leftover broth from the hot pot.
  • Add rice, egg, seafood & green onions and cook for about 5 minutes, covered under low-medium heat. If the liquid evaporates and the ingredients start to stick to the pot, add 1/2 cup of water. Add more as necessary.
  • Serve in individual bowls and enjoy. Optionally, eat with ponzu & hot pepper.


The porridge is best to eat right after it’s cooked but if you would like to save some for later, rice will gradually absorb the broth and the porridge will get clumpy. In that case, mix in some water when reheating.
Keyword crab, hot pot, seafood, winter

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