A Dutch oven containing thousand layers of cabbage leaves and pork belly slices simmered in a savory dashi broth.

Mille-Feuille Nabe

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: hot pot, nabe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: Nami
Japanese hot pots are satisfying, warm meals that you and your family treasure during the cold-weather months. Today's recipe is Mille-Feuille Nabe, one of the most popular hot pot recipes enjoyed at home in Japan. 


  • 1 napa cabbage
  • lb sliced pork belly (NOT bacon - bacon is cured sliced pork belly. See Note)


  • 1 inch ginger (2.5 cm)
  • 5 cups dashi (1200 ml) (I use awase dashi)
  • 2 Tbsp sake
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ tsp kosher/sea salt (use half for table salt)

Dipping Sauce


  1. Gather all the ingredients.

    Mille-Feuille Nabe Ingredients
  2. Slice the ginger and thinly cut green onion/scallion. Keep the ginger on the side and put the green onion in a small serving bowl.

    Mille-Feuille Nabe 1
  3. Cut the napa cabbage into quarters lengthwise. Without cutting the edge, wash the leaves carefully and drain well. Don’t throw away the leaves that naturally came off while rinsing. We’ll use these leaves later on.

    Mille-Feuille Nabe 2
  4. Place each slice of pork belly between the napa cabbage leaves. If you have extra pork belly, you can put an additional slice in outer layers which have wide leaves. If the pork belly is too long for the napa cabbage, you can trim with a kitchen shear and place it in other parts of the napa cabbage.

    Mille-Feuille Nabe 3
  5. Once the pork belly slices are nicely tucked in, cut the napa cabbage into 3-4 pieces, about 2 - 2 ¾ inches (5-7 cm).

    Mille-Feuille Nabe 4
  6. Start packing the layers of napa cabbage/pork belly from the outer edges of donabe (or hot pot or regular pot) and work your way towards the center. The napa cabbage/pork belly layers should be packed tightly as they become loosen once it starts cooking.

    Mille-Feuille Nabe 5
  7. If you don’t have enough layers, you might want to consider a smaller pot (remember the size of your napa cabbage and proportional pot size you used for next time) or place other ingredients in the center. Here I stuffed the center with napa cabbage leaves that came off while rinsing and cutting the napa cabbage. You can also put enoki mushrooms or shimeji mushrooms in the center.

    Mille-Feuille Nabe 6
  8. Combine the soup ingredients (5 cups dashi, 2 Tbsp sake, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, slices of 1-inch ginger, and ½ tsp kosher salt). Don’t cut down on the salt as napa cabbage releases liquid when it's being cooked and will dilute the soup a little bit.

    Mille-Feuille Nabe 7
  9. Pour the soup into the pot and start cooking on high heat. Once boiling, skim the foam and fat on the surface. Then reduce the heat to medium-low heat and cook until napa cabbage is tender and pork belly is cooked through.

    Mille-Feuille Nabe 8
  10. Serve hot with ponzu, green onion/scallion, and shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven spice).
    Mille-Feuille Nabe 9

Recipe Notes

Pork belly slices or block can be purchased in Asian grocery stores (especially Japanese, Korean, and Chinese). Some American grocery stores with good meat section (where butchers work behind the counter) carry it, but usually they keep it in the freezer so you have to ask for it. When you slice, you have to defrost until a knife can go through, and don't thaw it completely. It'll be harder to slice thinly. If your pork belly has skin/rind, you will need to remove it.


Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.