Subarashi Sukiyaki

Sukiyaki in preparation

I’ve jabbered on about sukiyaki before, so here’s a quick run-down of the “how to”:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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…
  5. Fight for the beef! Dip in raw egg if you like.
  6. 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.

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