The Sumo wrestler’s diet is not for the faint of heart.
They down calories by the bowlful, attempting to strengthen their bones and gain weight so that they can crush their opponents with their massive bodies.
For more than 200 years, the wrestlers have relied on the traditional Japanese soup called “chankonabe” to get the job done. Known within the Sumo community as a “legal steroid,” each rendition of chankonabe is made slightly differently, but all are chock-full of various meats and veggies.
Such a long list, in fact, that as you read it, you might begin to question why all of these ingredients are being cooked together in the same “nabe,” which is the word for “one-pot meal” in Japan.
If my life-long dream were to become a Sumo wrestler, I would have been out of luck after trying this soup. To put it lightly, it was not something I would want to sit down to before a long day of training.
Given the soup’s wide array of seafood ingredients, the fish taste overpowered both the broth and the pork belly.
Luckily, I had a partner in crime to help me finish the dish — even our combined body weight did not equal the average wrestlers’ impressive 330-pound body. It was a lot to take on.
Served in front of us was a massive pot filled to the brim with:
- Chicken tsukune
- Pork belly
- Silken tofu
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Napa cabbage
- Bean sprouts
- Shiro dashi
- Udon noodles (served on the side)
I tried this dish at the opening of Brooklyn’s Moku Moku restaurant, along with a few other items not served “nabe,” that were simply amazing. Those included the Moku salad and a batch of untraditional french fries seasoned with a kick of yuzu kosho, rosemary, and salts.
I would highly recommend ordering those as your starters, along with the incredible sake: Miyasaka Yawaraka Junmai.
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