Sendai’s Traditional Winter Dish Meets a Contemporary Copper Design
What is Seri Nabe?
I’m sure you’re all aware of Sendai’s representative foods such as Gyutan Beef Tongue or Zunda Sweet Edamame Paste, but have you ever tried Seri Nabe? Considered to be Sendai’s authentic soul food, Seri Nabe (セリ鍋) —or Seri hotpot— is a typical winter dish with Seri Japanese parsley as its main ingredient. Originally from Natori, this comforting dish is unique for using the locally produced Japanese herb in its entirety —yes, including the roots! Seri have particularly thick stems and roots, which add different flavors and textures to the dish. Of course, this hotpot wouldn’t be complete without some kind of poultry, generally chicken or duck —although duck is more authentic! It is a truly delightful experience for any foodie looking for a warm stomach on a cold winter night!
Sendai Copper and Tazen's Rich History
In order to enhance the flavors and experience of this local soul food, the talented crafters at Tazen have created a special pot specifically for Seri Nabe. Tazen is one of Sendai’s oldest companies with a history that can be traced back to the founding of Sendai over 400 years ago. Tazen’s copper craftsmanship was not only cherished by the feudal lord Masamune Date, who ruled over the Sendai Domain from 1600 through 1636, but also by the common people of Sendai too. The name “Tazen,” is actually a mixture of the first and last names of the company’s founding father, Zenzo Tanaka. Tanaka was one of the pioneers of Momoyama Culture (also known as Azuchi-Momoyama Culture 安土桃山文化), renowned for his incredible copper engravings. He was personally scouted out by Masamune Date himself —a big fan of the visual arts that emerged from Momoyama Culture. He traveled all the way to Osaka to convince the skilled craftsman to come back with him to his domain. It took a lot of convincing, but Tanaka finally agreed, and his designs would later embellish Sendai’s major structures, such as Aoba Castle, the Osaki Hachimangu Shrine, and the Zuigan-ji Temple in Matsushima —with the exception of Aoba Castle, his copperwork can still be admired to this day!
The company, which started off as a family-run business in 1569, went through a plethora of trials and tribulations over its 427 years of operations. From multiple fires leaving the company in ruins, to the ever-changing needs of society with each passing era, Tazen has always shown incredible perseverance and adaptability throughout their entire journey. Passed down the family line for 17 generations, they went from decorating shrines and temples under the command of the feudal lord, to shifting towards items that responded to the needs of the people, such as kettles, pots, Kandoko for heating sake, and much more. Today they continue to adapt to the needs of contemporary society, which is reflected in their latest product: a square-shaped nabe made specifically for Seri Nabe!
Tazen's Handmade Copper Seri Nabe Pot
Handmade entirely from copper, this modern, angular, and shallow design prevents the Seri Nabe ingredients from sinking to the bottom of the pot, gathering in the middle of the pot in one clump, and from getting all gross and mushy as the ingredients cook. This is entirely thanks to copper’s distinctive properties. Not only is it an excellent conductor of heat, but it also has effective sterilization properties and the added benefit of preserving the minerals of the ingredients it heats up. For Seri, this means enhancing the sweetness and its green color! These properties are crucial in making delicious Seri Nabe, a notoriously difficult dish to make as Seri can become bitter and lose its delightful crunchy texture if cooked for too long.
Sendai’s traditional dish can now be enjoyed in Tazen’s modern copper Nabe Pots at a handful of restaurants and izakaya throughout Sendai. With the grand ambition of reviving copper use in contemporary society, the inspiring Zen-san launched the “Akagane Sendai” project offering various opportunities to experience copper in Miyagi’s capital. One such opportunity is at Kome (こうめ), which serves Seri Nabe in their signature square pot! We also recommend checking out Oden Kozo (おでんこうぞう) which uses the Seri pot for making for making Oden*.
*Oden is a Japanese one-pot dish consisting of several ingredients marinated in a soy-sauce and dashi broth, such as daikon, eggs, fish cakes and konjac.
More From Tazen
Check out the video below to hear directly from Zen-san, the innovative craftsman and Tazen’s 18th generation inheritor to-be, for more details on the properties of copper as well as its interesting history with Shinto traditions!