How to Slice Meat Thin For Shabu Shabu

By Ryan Leavitt •  Updated: 05/05/21 •  4 min read

Shabu Shabu is a nutritious, tasty, and delicious Japanese dish.

This inexpensive and easy to prepare meal has beef as its main ingredient.

A wide variety of Japanese dishes use thinly sliced beef as the primary ingredient.

Some of the popular Japanese dishes that are prepared using delicate pork or beef slices are such as sukiyaki and stir-fry dishes.

So, how do you slice the meat thin for shabu shabu?

The secret to slicing beef thin is freezing it for several hours prior to slicing. Freezing makes it sufficiently hard for paper-thin slicing.

Before placing the meat in the freezer, ensure that you chop it into considerable chunks for easy slicing.

Avoid chopping it into small sizes as they are hard to slice.

Use a razor-sharp blade with a thin cutting edge.


Step-by-step Guide

The first step when it comes to slicing meat thin is choosing premium meat.

This type of meat is lean and hence tends to be firm, thereby allowing for easy slicing.

There are two ways of slicing meat; manually or with a meat slicer.

Slicing meat by hand is not a hard task but maybe a little complex for beginners.

On the other hand, using a slicer is quite easy and fast.

If you want a practical feel, then doing it manually will be highly satisfying.

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Wash it then cut into sizeable chunks
  2. Place the chunks into the freezer. You should put the chunks in freezer bags to prevent loss of flavor, texture, and color.
  3. Freeze it for 2-4 hours until it is firm for thin slicing
  4. Once it is firm, use a thin and ultra-sharp blade to make thin slices. Cut against the grain for clean and smooth slices.

When cutting, ensure that you hold the blade firmly while securing the meat with the non-dominant hand.

Be careful to prevent the blade from slipping as this can inflict severe injuries.

Using a meat slicer

Cutting beef or pork using a meat slice is a straightforward task.

However, you need to be extremely careful as these appliances are quite risky.

As such, they can cause life-threatening injuries when mishandled.

Even when cutting meat with these appliances, it is advisable to freeze the meat for firmness.

Once it is frozen, place it in the food carriage.

Then, adjust the blade settings to the thinnest level for ultra-thin meat slices.

Useful tips

Here are a few tips to note when slicing meat for Shabu Shabu:

  1. Chill the meat for a few hours. This makes it firm for easy and accurate slicing. Do not cut it into huge chunks as they are hard to control. When using a meat slicer, chop it into pieces that will fit into the carriage easily.
  2. When slicing manually, you should ensure that the blade is ultra-sharp. You can use a whetstone or stainless steel to sharpen the blade when slicing.
  3. Cutting against the grain will make it melty and smooth. Cutting along the grain makes it chewier and hence it will require you to cook for longer.
  4. Wear a pair of protective gloves when using a meat slicer. Also, read the manufacturer’s instructions for operating the appliance.
  5. Placing it in freezer bags is better than placing it on metal trays when freezing. This is because the bag will preserve the flavor, texture, and color.

Veggies to use

The veggies that you should include in your recipe for this dish include cabbage, mushrooms (enoki and shiitake varieties), green onions, bok choy, and firm tofu.

Slice the vegetables into thin slices and remove the stems from cabbages.

This makes it easy to prepare the veggies for cooking.

You should use a blade for slicing vegetables as opposed to a meat slicer.

Which other dishes can you prepare using sliced meats?

There is a wide variety of meals that you can prepare using sliced meats.

Some of these dishes are such as beef & broccoli stir fry, Philly cheesesteak, bacon-wrapped chicken, pork cutlets, Japchae, Yakisoba, and beef udon among other dishes.


Shabu Shabu is a fun and exciting meal to prepare.

You can add spices of preference to make the dish tastier and delicious.

With this dish, you can use your creativity to make the meal satisfying.

There are several recipes that you can search for online if you are a beginner.

Asian supermarkets and online markets are the best avenues for finding the best ingredients for this and other Japanese dishes.

If you do not eat beef, then you can substitute it with other meats like chicken, pork, seafood, or lamb.

Ryan Leavitt

Hi my name is Ryan Leavitt a Marine Corps Veteran and currently an over the road trucker (Long Haul). I am no expert chef but am enjoying preparing my own meals on the road and testing all the different knives.