Winter is the best season for crab in Hokkaido and one of the most delectable dishes to try it in is the regional speciality, crab hot pot or kani nabe. Succulent fresh crab and seasonal vegetables, typically Chinese cabbage, are cooked in a dashi broth with kombu or katsuobushi (bonito fish flakes). To finish o the meal, Japanese diners traditionally make a simple kani zosui or crab porridge with the leftover soup, rice and a beaten egg.
Unlike other varieties of nabe, crab hot pot is typically a one-ingredient dish, prepared with one type of vegetable, to allow the crab’s full flavour to rule. Varieties used in kani nabe in Hokkaido include snow crab, horsehair crab and blue king crab. But the most sought after is the red king crab. Said to be the most expensive variety in the world, it is a mid-winter highlight to be especially savoured in this dish.