Professional Sumo Potato – Chanko Nabe Flavor

Brand: Jagabee

Cost: Gift

Found at: Sumo Tournament

As an apology for forgetting to send my bags to the airport (first world problems, amiright?) my boss brought me some potato chips from the Sumo tournament last month in Osaka. This gave me the opportunity to try, albeit in potato chip form, something that I’ve always wanted to try: Chankonabe. Nabe describes a variety of Japanese, single-pot stews in which everything from vegetables to mochi to fish heads is boiled in broth and eaten directly from the cooking pot. There are a variety of regional flavors and additives, and you could spend all winter without having to eat the same one twice. It’s one of my favorite dishes to eat with friends around the kotatu (heated winter table) when the weather outside is cold and grey, and work is particularly stressful.

Chanko nabe is a famous variation on this brothy stew that is associated with sumo. Its made with a base of chicken/dashi broth and sake/mirin and stuffed with as much protein as the pot can accommodate. Chicken, fish, tofu, beef, mushrooms, and a few vegetables hidden under all the meat. In the sumo stables, it is the staple dish for masters and neophytes alike, served with rice and beer to increase caloric content, and followed with a long nap to enhance the robust physiques so central to the sport. Once a Sumo wrestler retires, it’s not uncommon for them to open a Chanko nabe restaurant, and around the sumo stables, it’s easy to find many such shops run by large, cheerful cooks reliving their glory days in the sport of giants.

Sadly, the potato chip version is not distinct enough to give the full impression of the dish. I can’t say I came away with any clear idea of what Chanko nabe tastes like. All the more reason to go try it for myself. Sumo tournament, here I come.


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