One of the greatest reasons I like to cook is to get together with my friends and family. It feels good to be able to create something special for the people I care for and make an experience that they will remember. Today’s recipe is an experience you will enjoy. Better yet, it’s simple and incredibly delicious. It’s Sukiyaki.
For the Japanese, Sukiyaki is one of many meals that can be cooked at the table and enjoyed together. During winter months, it’s nice to sit down with the family around a bubbling donabe on a portable burner. The warmth and smell of the ingredients is enough to warm the soul. It’s simply something you have to experience for yourself. Luckily, I will show you how to prepare this meal right now. Are you ready?
This recipe consists of 2 simple parts; making the sukiyaki sauce and prepping the ingredients for cooking at the table. Another thing you will need is a portable burner or cooktop. They are available in electric or gas, the latter being cheaper. The gas burner runs on butane cartridges that you can get a pack of 4 for a few bucks. I prefer the gas because of the heat control and there’s no cord to trip on.
For the sukiyaki sauce, you will need:
- 120 ml, sake
- 1/4 cup, soy sauce
- 1/4 cup, mirin
- 2 Tbsp, sugar (you can adjust the sugar to your taste since the mirin is already sweet)
Combine the ingredients in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Once that’s done, shut off the heat and set it aside.
Here are a list of ingredients for our sukiyaki hotpot:
- 1-1 1/2 lb of thinly sliced beef (I’m talking paper thin)
- 1 cup, fresh shiitake mushrooms
- 1 package, konnyaku (cake or noodle form)
- 1 bunch, green onion
- 1 small white onion
- 1 large carrot
- 1 medium head, napa cabbage
- 1 bunch, enoki mushrooms (if you don’t have them, don’t worry)
- 1 block, tofu (firm)
All you need to do with the ingredients is cut them up nicely and arrange them on a large platter on the table for cooking. With the shiitake, cut off the tough stem then cut a criss-cross pattern on the tops. If you are using konnyaku in the cake form, cut into bite-sized slices then cut a small hole near one end. Take the long end of the konnyaku and tuck it into the hole you just cut. What you’re left with is a cool, twisted shape that serves 2 purposes: one, it looks cool and two, you are increasing surface area so that it will absorb more flavour from the sauce. For more detailed explanation on this, please watch the video. After your konnyaku is prepped, you have to boil it for a few minutes, then strain and set aside.
Cut the green onion into 2 inch pieces on a slant. Half the white onion and cut into thin slices. With the carrot, just slice thinly on the bias. Then, slice the napa cabbage and tofu into bite-sized pieces. If you have enoki mushrooms, just cut off the roots. Now that all your ingredients are cut nicely, arrange them on a large platter so they look nice. Of course, put the beef on a separate plate. If you have any eggs, have them handy as well. You will need one egg per person. Traditionally, Sukiyaki is enjoyed by dipping the cooked ingredients into the beaten, raw egg. If you don’t like raw eggs, don’t worry about it.
So your table should look like this: portable burner and donabe in the center of the table, your beef plate off to one side, the vegetables on the other. Each person at the table has a bowl of steamed rice and a small bowl with an egg. You also want to get that sukiyaki sauce you made and put it into a container you can pour from. Now you are ready to cook.
To start, heat up the donabe on medium high heat. When the pot is hot, add some beef with about a tablespoon or two of the sukiyaki sauce. Move the beef around until its brown then start to arrange the other ingredients around it. Start with your cabbage, onions, carrots, shiitake, green onion, konnyaku and tofu. Arrange nicely around the pot. Just a tip: don’t put the konnyaku right next to the beef. It will toughen the meat. When you have the ingredients in the pot, add the rest of the sauce and bring to a boil. When it starts to boil, turn down the heat to a steady simmer and put on the lid. This will cook quickly (3 to 4 minutes).
When the time is up, take off the lid and serve. If you have a large pair of cooking/serving chopsticks, use them. Another thing you can use is the individual ‘nets’ you can get for Chinese hotpot. Everyone just takes from the donabe and enjoys with their rice. With the beef, you can dip it into the beaten egg, then eat. Add more ingredients from the the table as you need them. As the meal winds down, don’t let the leftover broth go to waste. It’s full of flavour from all the ingredients you have been cooking in it. Add some leftover rice and a beaten egg. Let that simmer and you have a congee-like mixture that tastes like heaven.
So have fun in the kitchen and take care! I hope you try this at home.