Chanko Nabe
Asia, Japanese, Recipes, Travel

Chanko Nabe (Japanese Sumo Wrestler Soup)

Japanese cuisine has a beautiful range of nutritious foods to pick from, just like this one-pot meal Chankonabe. Sumo wrestlers eat this soup everyday, in generous amounts, alongside many servings of rice. The rice is easily digested thanks to the abundance of water from the soup. The great thing about Chanko and hot-pot meals in general, is that choice of vegetables you add is completely up to you! Generally, vegetables such as enoki mushrooms, carrots, lettuce, tofu, daikon, bok choy are used but the choice is really yours. It is rich in protein as beef is usually added and why not add some alongside fish cakes too?

‘Nabe’ means ‘hot-pot’, which is enjoyed by Sumo wrestlers after each of their training sessions.Families will also enjoy this soup, keeping each other company when the weather is cold outside. The word Chanko indicates that it is a  meal eaten by sumo-wrestlers. One theory suggests that the word ‘Chanko’ was adopted at the end of the 19th century when an aging, retired sumo-wrestler decided to work at a sumo stable in Tokyo. Whilst there, he cooked for the sumo -wrestlers everyday. The word “chan” is japanese slang for ‘dad’ therefore the hot-pot was named ‘Chanko-nabe.’ I’ve linked an insightful video below about Chanko Nabe here

Chankonabe is a family favourite as it is  quick to make, filling and leaves you feeling stronger after a good night’s sleep. I’ve linked a video I use everytime I forget the recipe, here is the written method is you would prefer:

Chanko Nabe Recipe


For the Broth

  • 3 cups of water
  • 2 1/2tbsp Dashi Powder
  • 2tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 2tbsp Mirin
  • 2tbsp Sake


  • Carrot
  • shimeji mushrooms
  • enoki mushrooms (or whichever type you like)
  • Vermicelli Noodles
  • 1/4 Nappa Cabbage
  • 1 Spring Onion
  • Firm Tofu (Half)


Preparing the Broth:

  1. In a pot allow the water to heat up before adding the Dashi Powder and letting it boil for 1 minute. Gently stir the water so that the dashi  powder is evenly spread. Dashi is made of kombu (dried kelp), and bonito fish flakes. This gives the soup its soft sea-like taste.
  2. In addition, add the Soy sauce, Mirin and Sake as well as salt to taste (if the soy sauce did not make the broth salty enough.) This combination of ingredients gives the soup its flavour, the vegetables emphasise the flavour and add texture.

Adding the vegetables & others:

  1. Cut the Napa Cabbage into thick strips before adding to the gently boiling broth, allowing it to cook for a few minutes whilst you cut the spring onion diagonally and add to the soup.
  2. You can be creative with the aesthetics of the vegetables.For example, using Bento Food Cutters to cut your carrots into cute shapes (like Bambi did in her video below.)
  3. Add the carrots and let the soup simmer for around 5 minutes.
  4. In the mean time you can cook your vermicelli noodles in a separate pot, as you will add them into the soup once they’re cooked.
  5. Cut and prep your mushrooms as well as the tofu whilst waiting for the noodles.
  6. Once the noodles are ready, you can add them into the broth with the mushrooms and tofu. Feel free to add pre-bought or pre-made fishcakes into the soup.
  7. Place the lid on the pot and allow the soup to cook for 10 minutes before serving hot!

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