Chilly weather in Japan means nabe (pronounced nah-bay)—that is, hot pot dinners. (Nabe or 鍋 just means ‘pot’ generically.)
Like most people, we have a little gas stove, like a camping stove, that sits right on the table for nabe meals. As the pot (donabe or 土鍋) simmers away, everyone serves themselves as they wish. Nabe evokes warmth and togetherness—plus it’s a very easy meal to prepare.
There are no particular rules for nabe, but we usually include: big green onions; mizuna; hakusai (aka napa aka Chinese cabbage); maitake, enoki, and sometimes other mushrooms; and tofu.
Other typical ingredients include shiitake mushrooms, white fish or oysters, meatballs (pork or chicken), fried tofu, ganmodoki (tofu balls with vegetables), etc. One famous kind of nabe is chanko nabe, the primary meal of sumo wrestlers. It includes chicken, veggies, and various tofu products. And of course, they eat tons of rice alongside.
One typical way to finish off a nabe meal is to use the remaining stock for 雑炊 (zosui). You re-heat the stock that remains in the pot and stir in beaten eggs and rice or noodles to make a sort of porridge.
You can also buy very handy packages of stock for nabe at the grocery store, in all types of flavours: sesame + soy milk, various kinds of dashi, kimchi, tomato, soy sauce, etc.