I’ve jabbered on about sukiyaki before, so here’s a quick run-down of the “how to”:
- Prepare the ingredients. This dish needs to be cooked at the dining table, and it’s best to have everything ready. We buy the beef pre-sliced. The flower-shaped gluten-thingy² needs to be rehydrated (soak briefly, a few min, and squeeze lightly). Slice the negi (spring onion, but a lot bigger than the regular spring onion) and yaki-tofu (broil some firm tofu if you can’t buy pre-grilled tofu), and cut the shirataki (noodle form of konnyaku) into bite-sized pieces. There’s some enokitake under the flower-shaped gluten-thingy too, but looking too bedraggled to be photographed; shiitake works too. If you can get a hold of shungiku (edible chrysanthemum leaves), all the better since they add a rather “fresh” taste to what is otherwise a pretty heavy dish. I’ve used “chinese/napa cabbage” and it works too; makes it sweeter. One day I’ll try dandelion leaves. Or not.
- After setting up the table with a portable gas stove and a sturdy pot (make sure the sake or tea are ready too!), start by frying a few slices of negi in some oil (beef fat if you want an even earlier heart attack) and add a few slices of beef. The aim is to cook just enough for everyone at the table to get a few mouthfuls before everything is over-cooked, so don’t stick the whole shebang in.
- And we cook it “Kansai”-style³ just because I’m too lazy to pre-mix a sauce. According to my trusty Japanese Home Cooking manual, 3 tbsp of mirin, 3 tbsp of sugar and 3 tbsp of soya sauce are added to the pan as the beef sizzles away. I shudder at the thought of so much sugar, and only ever add 1 tbsp at most. And maybe a little less soya sauce too. We usually add a dribble of water to compensate for the lower volume of soya sauce.
- Before the beef is fully-cooked (ie when it’s still a wee bitty red), add a bit of everything else (green veg last) and let it all simmer away while you…
- Fight for the beef! Dip in raw egg if you like.
- Repeat ad infinitum. Actually, don’t. You might explode.
¹ I’ve heard of folks slicing frozen steak to get it thin enough. We will explore this when Nijiya is no longer an option.
² I think it’s called “fu”, but don’t quote me on that one. I call it gluten-thingy. It’s not usually flower-shaped. I just bought that on a whim. I think the traditional style is tubular. The cookbook has “wheels” of fu. Or gluten-thingy.
³I will have to ask my Japanese colleagues about whether they really cook it Kanto vs Kansai style. But I know the answer will not be straight-forward. You know, it never is with scientists… We always have to give the objective answer.