Here is the preparation of the always popular sukiyaki dish. As I have mentioned before, prepping nabemono dinner (in this case a sukiyaki dinner) in your kitchen is super quick and easy. It requires cutting of certain raw ingredients, and blanching (quick simmering) some ingredients as necessary.
This sukiyaki recipe is Tokyo style. Sliced beef and vegetables are cooked in flavorful ‘warishita’ sauce. The vegetable, including shirataki noodles (made of konnyaku, taro root starch*) used in this recipe, are traditional ones. You may substitute your favorite vegetables. For example, adding broccoli cheers up the color and spirit of a sukiyaki dinner. Shirataki noodles are a bit hard to find if you don’t live close to a Japanese or large Asian food store. Substitute for shirataki with dry mung bean noodles* that are more commonly available.
When you read the below section on cooking at the table, even though the instructions are quite simple, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. But if you repeat the sukiyaki dinner just two or three times it becomes as easy as when you host a barbecue dinner.
*You can find more information about shirataki and mung bean noodles in my book, The Japanese Kitchen.
2 cups dashi stock (substitute is low-sodium beef stock)
¼ cup sugar
½ cup sake
½ cup shoyu (soy sauce)
¼ cup mirin (sweet rice wine for cooking)
1 bunch chrysanthemum leaves; substitutes are kale or mizuna greens
7 ounces shirataki; substitute is dry mung bean noodles**
2 naganegi long green onions cut it into 1-inch long piecesdiagonally; substitute is 1 bunch scallions
4 fresh shiitake mushrooms cut into halves
1 block firm tofu, cut into half lengthwise; then, cut each half piece into 6 small cubes crosswise
1 ½ pounds well-marbled beef sirloin, sliced thinly (ask your butcher to cut the meat into about 1/10th-inch thick slices, or find the already sliced sukiyaki beef at Japanese food stores)
4 eggs, raw, but shell well washed, broken one each into 4 individual serving bowls
- Set up the dining table with the portable gas stove with a gas canister installed. Place a plastic tablecloth over your dining table (optional) to catch any drips. Turn on the gas stove and check if it is working. Then, turn it off.
- In a saucepan add the dashi, sugar, sake, shoyu and mirin, and bring it to a simmer over medium heat, stirring with a spoon to dissolve the sugar. Turn off the heat and transfer the sauce to a small pitcher. This is the warishita sauce.
- Cut off the hard stem part of chrysanthemum (about 1 inch) and discard. Cut the remainder into half crosswise. When you are using kale, remove the long, stem part from the leaf part. Cut the stems diagonally into thin slices. Cut the leaves into 3-inch wide strips.
- Bring plenty of water to a boil; add the shirataki noodles and cook for 1 to 2 minutes; drain.
** If you are using mung bean noodles bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the mung
bean noodles and cook for 3 minutes; drain and rinse under cold tap water; drain.
- Arrange all of the vegetables, shirataki noodles and tofu, beautifully on a large platter or two. Arrange sliced beef on a large platter. Ask a family member or friend to do this task. Transfer the bowls with eggs, warishita sauce, plates with vegetables and beef, and chopsticks to the dining room table.
- Place the iron sukiyaki pot or your skillet on top of the gas stove. Turn on the heat. When it is hot, add the beef slices flat on the bottom of the skillet. If your beef is not well marbled (fatty) enough apply thin layer of canola oil over the bottom of the skillet before adding the beef. You may first add 2 slices of the beef. The beef quickly shrinks, allowing you to add 2 additional slices. Then quickly add the warishita sauce until the slices are barely submerged. Check the heat of the gas stove. Keep it at medium heat. When the beef starts to dance in the warishita sauce, turn it over quickly. Have the diners stir the egg in the bowl with chop sticks to mix the yolk and white. Soon the beef is ready to be picked up by each dinner. Dip the beef in the egg and consume while hot.
- The warishita sauce in the pot is now flavored with delicious beef. This is the perfect time to cook a batch of vegetables that is sufficient for one serving to the diners. After adding the vegetables add little more warishita sauce so that the vegetables are barely submerged in it. Vegetables require more cooking time than the beef, so while they cook have a glass of your favorite beverage and enjoy the conversation. When the vegetables are done, divide and distribute all of them into each diners’ bowls. Enjoy.
- You then cook the second round of beef and vegetables, and repeat this process until all vegetables and beef is enthusiastically consumed.
EXTRA: At the end of cooking you will find very flavorful cooking liquid in the pot. I always add leftover cold rice (or it can be freshly cooked rice) to the pot and cook it until rice is fully heated and flavored with the leftover sauce. You may add additional warishita if needed during the cooking. The rice is heavenly delicious. If you and your fellow diners are egg people, crack one or two eggs over the cooked rice and toss the eggs with the rice gently. When the egg is still soft, about 80 percent cooked, serve this tasty treat to your fellow diners and enjoy your own portion.