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)