What is motsunabe?

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Motsunabe. Photo: Savor Japan

The Japanese word “motsu” basically refers to offal or internal organs of cows and pigs. According to the best anthology of Japanese poems compiled in the 7th century, offal has been eaten since the ancient times in Japan. Though some people may find it difficult or unappetizing to eat, motsu is considered to be one of the popular foods in Japan since it is not only tasty but is also cheap and said to have beautifying effects due to the high amounts of collagen.

Therefore, motsunabe is a hot pot dish with various offal stewed with vegetables such as cabbage, leek, and garlic. People say that the exquisite thing about motsu is its soft texture that resembles snow melting in your mouth. Though I have been in Japan for two years, it will be my first time to have motsunabe as I head on down to the restaurant hoping to satisfy my appetite.


Many people believe Motsunabe is a dish from Fukuoka Prefecture. This is an area located in the Kyushu island of Japan. There are some Motsunabe restaurants available in the area. It has actually made its way into Tokyo but its fame greatly declined due to the Mad Cow Disease in the past.

Apart from offal, you can enjoy eating Motsunabe with cabbage, leek and chili pepper. You need to cook it the conventional way of cooking a Japanese stew. The base soup includes the following ingredients: soy sauce with garlic and chili pepper or miso. It has a very addicting taste and many people enjoy eating it to the point of coming up with their own cooking styles. Restaurants also challenge themselves in making the best Motsunabe!

How to Make Motsunabe

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Photo: Savor Japan

One of the most popular Japanese dishes made using motsu is Motsunabe. The main ingredients of motsunabe include motsu (usually beef small intestines), garlic chives, cabbage, and tofu. Many different things can constitute motsu, but Hakata’s motsunabe usually uses beef small intestines which are famous for their soft, spongy texture. It is a taste that will have you instantly hooked due to the high levels of white fat.

Cut all of your ingredients into bite-sized pieces. To get the true motsunabe flavor, season with Chinese garlic and red chili pepper. The dashi (broth) can be made of a mix of things that may include soy sauce, mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine), water, or chicken bone broth. After preparing your ingredients, bring the dashi to a boil and then add the motsu and simmer. After that, add your vegetables, bring to a boil again, and your dish is ready.

A good tip is to boil the vegetables quickly on a high heat to allow the flavor of the dashi to permeate the vegetables. Also, motsu can have a strong smell, so get rid of this by rubbing them in salt and flour and then rinsing. This will improve the taste! You can also add extra seasonings such as garlic or thinly chopped chilis.

Once the ingredients are cooked through, mix thoroughly, according to Savor Japan.

The best way to eat Motsunabe

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Motsunabe. Photo: Savor Japan

Once it is ready, dish it up. First, try eating it as is and then try seasoning it with cayenne pepper. A little spice helps to enhance and change up the flavor.

In Japan, after eating hot pot, it is customary to cook rice or noodles in the remaining dashi broth. This is known in Japanese as "shime", the act of eating something to end a night of dining on foods like hot pot and drinking alcohol. The tasty dashi, infused with the unique flavors of the motsu and vegetables, is the perfect partner for rice and noodles. You should definitely try it when you come to Japan!

What Part of the Animal Is Motsu?

Motsu is the general Japanese word for an animal's internal organs, examples of which include the liver, heart, and small intestines. These organs all tend to be referred to as motsu in Japanese.

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