How to Make Sukiyaki (Japanese Beef Hot Pot) RECIPE
How to Make Sukiyaki
Sukiyaki is a Japanese beef and vegetable broth that is traditionally eaten during the wintertime. In Japan, because meat is expensive and usually reserved for special occasions, sukiyaki is one of the dishes eaten during a special celebration or right after payday. Whether or not you're celebrating, however, sukiyaki is both extremely fun to make and tastes delicious to boot. Gather around your friends and family for this inclusive, heartwarming dish.
Meat, Vegetables, and Noodles
12 oz. sirloin steak or similar, cut very thinly
1/4 cup suet (beef fat); several tablespoons of vegetable oil or even butter will also work
8 oz. yaki (grilled) tofu; any firm tofu will work
1 small or 1/2 large Napa (Chinese) cabbage
1 dozenshiitakemushrooms and one pack ofenokimushrooms; substitute portobello mushrooms if you can't find either
1 large Welsh onion (negi); a half a bunch of small green onions will do
2 bunches chrysanthemum leaves (shungiku); watercress, spinach, or any other leafy green will do
1 pack yam noodles (shirataki); any clear rice noodle will do
1 raw egg per person (optional)
1 pack or frozen or fresh udon noodles (optional)
1/2 cup cooking sake
1/2 cup mirin (Japanese rice wine similar to sake)
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 raw sugar; granulated sugar also works fine
Preparing the Ingredients
Prepare the shirataki by bringing the shirataki noodles to a boil after placing in a pot of cold water.As soon as the noodles have come to a boil, turn off the heat and strain the noodles. Submerge shirataki in a bowl of cool water.
- The shirataki shouldn’t need much cooking. Rather, the par-boiling is designed to remove some of the odor from the noodles. Then the shirataki can absorb the full flavor of the sukiyaki sauce.
- If using other kinds of noodles, look at instructions and par boil until they are only a couple minutes away from being al dente.
Slice the beef almost as thinly as possible or have your butcher help you.Sukiyaki calls for very thin beef. Choose a marbled sirloin (or similar) cut for very good results.
- Place the beef in the freezer for a couple of hours if you want to slice the beef yourself. When hard but not completely frozen through, beef is much easier to slice very thin.
Remove the stalks of the Chinese cabbage before slicing the leaves.The stalks of the cabbage are a little more fibrous and take longer to cook. Therefore, cut right around the stalks of the cabbage until the stalks can be separated from the leaves. Cut the stalks into 1-inch (or smaller) pieces. Coarsely chop the leaves into larger pieces.
Prepare the mushrooms.If you weren't able to get shiitake mushrooms, cut whatever mushrooms you have into bite-size pieces. If you were able to get the shiitake, here's how to traditionally prepare them:
- Remove the stem from the shiitake with a knife. Score a small star or cross into the cap of the mushroom with a knife. Imagine a straight line going through the middle of the cap. Take a knife and make a 30° angled cut along this straight line, digging only a small amount of flesh from the mushroom, enough to show the whites. Angle the knife in the opposite direction and make another 30° cut along the other side of the line. Repeat this process at the perpendicular to make a cross, and once more to make a star.
- For enoki mushrooms, simply wash and cut off the root bulb to prepare.
Cut the negi into approximately 1-inch pieces with a diagonal cut.
Rip the leaves of the shungiku from the stalk.If substituting spinach or watercress, rinse thoroughly and separate the leaves from the stalks. Discard the stalks.
Make the sukiyaki sauce.In a pot, bring 1/2 cup sake, 1/2 cup mirin, 1/3 cup soy sauce, and 1/4 cup sugar to a boil over medium heat. As soon as boil is reached, remove the sukiyaki sauce from the heat. The goal is to burn off the alcohol from the sake, not reduce the sauce.
Heat a large hot pot over medium heat.The traditional way of cooking sukiyaki involves an earthenware or cast iron hot pot with a kerosene burner underneath. This way the chef can cook at the table where he intends to serve. Alternately, an electric pan can be put to great use to cook at the table as well.
- If you have neither a hot pot or an electric pan to cook with, you can of course cook the sukiyaki on the burner away from the table. Just make sure to choose a large pot with an accompanying lid.
Place a healthy dollop of beef suet, lard, or other fat in the pot.Beef suet is traditional, but lard or even vegetable oil can be used if the aim is a healthier meal.
Introduce the thinly sliced beef into the pot and cook until it just loses its pinkness.You will keep the beef in the pot while the other ingredients cook, so be careful not to overcook it. Once the beef loses its pinkness, move it over to the side of the pan so it doesn't cook at quickly.
- Some cooks introduce a little bit of the sukiyaki sauce to the pan while they are cooking the beef.The sukiyaki sauce will bubble and reduce quickly because of the soy sauce.
- Other cooks prefer sweetening the beef a little with plain sugar while it’s frying in the pan with the fat. There's no reason you can't do both.
Introduce the cabbage stalks, yaki tofu, and mushrooms into the pan.Keep all ingredients separate; each separate ingredient should be bunched together on the pan.
Place the strained shirataki in the pot well away from the beef.Since shirataki contains a compound that makes beef tough, segregate it from the beef while all the ingredients are cooking.
Finish placing the remaining ingredients in the pot.Introduce the cabbage leaves, chrysanthemum, and onions into the remaining spots of the pot.
Add the remaining sukiyaki sauce and cover the pot to simmer.
Simmer with the lid on for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the meat has fully cooked and the cabbage stalks just lose their crunch.
Prepare a dipping sauce by beating one egg for each person being served.Traditionally, a dipping sauce of raw eggs is served alongside sukiyaki.The combination may not sound especially appetizing to westerners, but it is a surprisingly good combination, even if you aren’t predisposed to liking it.
- If you are worried about uncooked eggs carrying salmonella or don’t like the flavor, omit them. For what it’s worth, salmonella is very rare in raw eggs.
Dip meat and vegetables into raw eggs before eating.Simply grab whatever looks appetizing out of the hot pot and dip it into the egg.
- If you are not eating with family or close friends, use the thicker ends of your chopsticks to grab food out of communal pots. This is considered polite.
Continue adding any extra meat and vegetables into the hot pot as you eat.If there are leftovers that didn’t find into the first generation of the meal, cook them now in the remaining broth. Meat and leafy greens will take less time to cook than vegetables will.
If any broth is leftover, reserve it and serve udon noodles with it the next day.In Japan, it is traditional to use the leftover broth as the broth for udon noodles. If you don't have enough broth but wish to make more, use the recipe for sukiyaki sauce above and combine it with the remaining sauce. Heat the broth back up to boiling, then reduce the heat to a simmer. If the broth tastes too overpowering, cut the broth with 1/3 cup of water and taste again.
- Japanese markets may have "Sukiyaki Sets" for sale, which contain all the pre cut ingredients except for meat, tofu and sauce. This makes preparing sukiyaki incredibly easy, but it probably doesn't hold a candle next to real sukiyaki.
- To be extremely authentic, you can buy a kerosene burner to cook at the table.
- Sukiyaki is very child friendly. Kids like it with extra sugar and love pulling the ingredients out of the pot; they get to pick what they like.
- If you want to use a raw egg, it is best to have organic/free range to prevent risk of salmonella.
- Small children should be kept away from the kerosene burner and the hot broth.
- If you are using a kerosene burner, ensure you are in a well ventilated area and there is nothing flammable on the table.
Sources and Citations
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Video: How To Make Sukiyaki (Recipe) すき焼きの作り方 （レシピ）
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