Sweet, Savory Sukiyaki!
Japanese winter cuisine is characterized by a lineup of delicious hot-pot dishes. Joining oden and nabe in the winter hotpot lane is a dish known as sukiyaki (pronounced ski-ya-kee). Sukiyaki is comprised of thinly sliced meat, usually beef, simmered in a salty, savory broth alongside tofu and vegetables, and then dipped in beaten, raw egg before being eaten.
Prepared in a very similar manner to nabe and oden, there are a few characteristics that set sukiyaki apart. One of those is the pot itself. Nabe is often prepared in a clay pot, while sukiyaki is made in a cast iron, deep walled pan. The pan is usually placed on a gas burner situated in the middle of the table so that diners can pull ingredients out to eat as they are desired. Another aspect that sets sukiyaki apart is the flavor of the broth. The broth, known as warishita, is made of a mixture of sake, soy sauce, sugar, mirin and dashi, is much saltier and stronger in flavor than those used in nabe and oden. The final way that sukiyaki is unique among simmered hot-pots is through the use of raw egg as a garnish for dipping. Japanese raw eggs are, because of cleanliness standards upheld by the Japanese government, generally safe to eat and provide a textural and flavorful counterpoint to the salty broth that the ingredients are simmered in.
When preparing your own sukiyaki, choosing appropriate-quality beef and eggs is especially important. Marbled, wagyu-style beef works the best, as beef with less fat will come out of the simmering tougher and more difficult to chew. Finding eggs that are safer to eat is usually the most difficult part. Look for eggs that have been pasteurized, or pasteurize them at home using a sous-vide. Also, be aware that there is always a risk of salmonella when consuming raw egg.
Check out the following recipe and make your very own sukiyaki at home!
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
½ head hakusai (napa cabbage)
1 bunch shungiku
1 tokyo negi
1 package enoki mushrooms
1 package firm tofu
8 shiitake mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 package shirataki noodles (white or black are both acceptable)
2 bottles sukiyaki warishita straight
1 package (or more if desired) wagshugyu sliced chuck roll
Jidori eggs (Jidori eggs have been raised using a higher cleanliness standard and are somewhat safer to eat than typical grocery store eggs. However, there is always a risk of contracting salmonella from consuming raw eggs, so consume at your own risk!)
Optional: 1-2 packages sanuki udon noodles, to simmer in the sauce after all of the other ingredients have been eaten.
If you want to make your own sukiyaki sauce, use the following recipe:
1 cup sake
1 cup mirin
¼ cup sugar
1 cup soy sauce
Prepare the sauce, either by combining the sauce ingredients or by pouring three cups of the pre-bottled warishita sauce into the sukiyaki pan and bring to a simmer.
Cut hakusai in 2 inch slices, and then slice each leaf down the center, following the white vein.
Cut shungiku, tokyo negi, and enoki mushroom into 2 inch slices. Discard the root ends of each.
Cut tofu into chunks, approximately 6-8 per block.
Drain and rinse shirataki noodles.
Defrost meat, and allow to come to about room temperature.
Completely defrost udon noodles and set aside.
Once the broth has come to a simmer, add the meat and allow to cook thoroughly. Then, add vegetables and other ingredients.
Simmer ingredients together and retrieve them as they cook. If the broth becomes too salty, add water. If it waters down too much, add more sauce.
Dip into beaten egg and enjoy with rice.
Optional: Once all the ingredients are cooked, throw the udon noodles into the remaining broth, and eat them as soup!