Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sukiyaki Recipe... A Great Treat Winter or Summer

Well, here's a good Japanese recipe.... Sukiyaki. This is a variant of a the hotpot cooking style, known collectively as nabemono. Once again, this style is based on the idea of communal cooking at the table. Sukiyaki is a favourite of ours...even though it's been a long time since we had it.

Now many people would associate "Sukiyaki"with the 1960's song by Kyu Sakamoto, which actually has absolutely nothing to do with the food sukiyaki... and is actually a completely fictitious English translation of the original song title "Ue o Muite Arukō" (which means, I shall walk looking up)...

Let's quickly run through the ingredients :
  • Beef, thinly sliced
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Chrysanthemum garland / crown daisy (shungiku)
  • Onion
  • Enoki mushrooms
  • Shitake mushrooms (missed this time around)
  • Fish cake (chikuwa)
  • Carrots (a little western addition we do)
  • Shirataki (konnyaku noodle)
  • Fu (a gluten-based flour bread)
  • Tofu (firm)
  • Udon noodles
  • 1 Egg per person (in a separate dish, lightly beaten)
  • Medium-grain rice, cooked and served separate
Basic sauce (dashi) Ingredients:
  • Soy sauce (100 cc)
  • Sake (60cc)
  • Sugar (80-100cc)
  • Mirin is also used sometimes- we don't use it in our recipe, and some put water in as well.
Note: The sauce is up to your particular taste, but we use the broad ratio of about 10 : 6 : 8 for the soy, sake and sugar respectively by volume. We often tune the taste during the cooking by adding more sauce ingredients as we go.
Now for those that don't cook much Japanese/asian foods, chikuwa is a delicious fish cake made in the form of a hollow tube, not unlike a bamboo stalk. The shungiku is a bit strange at first... and yes, it looks just like the stalks/leaves of the same chrysanthemum flowers you'd use on Mother's Day - indeed it's from the same family of plants. So I wouldn't suggest you go out and just re-use your gift flowers... buy the ones sold as food!)
Now the beef used is the same very thin beef used in many different hotpots and steamboats in Chinese cooking, so you can normally find this easily in your local chinatown grocers.
Now the shirataki are very low carbohydrate Japanese noodles made from the yam, known as konnyaku. Konnyaku is often served as a jelly-like ingredient, cut into large slices. Indeed it can be added into sukiyaki in this form as well. T-chan's family often put the udon noodles in at the end of the meal, and cook in the residual sauce... yummy.
The thing that makes sukiyaki distinct is that the cooked ingredients are coated in raw egg and beaten  (toki tamago). Make sure your eggs are fresh... and we always use free-range. You only need to beat lightly, just enough to break the yoke.
L-kun loves breaking eggs and beating them.... and that means that the cooking is about to begin!
Now the order of cooking is pretty simple... the one important implement is the table gas cooker (camp cooker is perfectly ok). As always, be careful with hot plates etc, especially when children are around. We use a specific sukiyaki pan, but I'd imagine any heavy iron/stainless steel pan would suffice. Normally you'd use beef fat to coat the pan as it heats up, then add the sauce (dashi) bring the sauce to the boil and melt the sugar and keep the temperature reasonably high then add in the cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, onion... and of course beef.. actually you can pretty well throw it all in at this stage and start cooking.
After the ingredients have started to cook (fairly quick). Add in the shungiko (chrysanthemum) last, as they will cook down very quickly.
Now, you're ready to eat. Just grab the cooked ingredients (meat and vegetables) and dip into the egg - and in your mouth. Simple and delicious. And also very healthy.
One of the great Japanese dishes! We also use the left-overs (we tend to over-stock ingredients) for sukiyaki-don, i.e. sukiyaki on the rice... just heat up the cooked sukiyaki up on the stove, and add the beaten egg over the top (cooking just a little) before serving on top of a bowl of rice.
It may be especially good to warm the stomach on a cold winter's night, but it's equally good all the year round.


  1. Looks delicious! You've got me dreaming of winter now. The thought of nabe in summer here is not a good one.

  2. I can understand that - I'm so not a humid-weather person, that I'm not sure what I'd be eating in a Japanese summer right now. However, there are some foods I can eat, no matter what. I think it comes down to lots of things, the food, the company, the drinks - and yes, the amount of cool air that can be generated by one means or another.

    I'm curious what food would you (or anyone) put on their top 5 list of Japanese summer dishes?

  3. I love nabe on a cold winters day and sukiyaki is one of my favourites. Cooking is always done at the table for this dish in Japan, and it is a great Party favourite. I love mine with a raw egg and a bowl of steamed rice on the side.

    Japan Australia

  4. Definitely a good one for keeping the cold at bay.

  5. It is fortunate that you can get all those ingredients in Adelaide!
    Looks very delicious, and I can tell T-chan is a good cook.
    Katya and I love curry, Thai dishes, and Mexican foods in summer, something spicy.
    For winter dishes, I would chose nabes, too.

  6. Adelaide - like most of Australian capital cities - has a fairly good range of asian ingredients. The only thing, is that you will tend to pay a fair bit for the Japanese imports.

    Yeah, T-chan's a pretty good cook - and a lot of it comes from her mother as well. I'm lucky like that. And I certainly don't complain... ?:-)

  7. my mouth is watering...

    wish I could find all those ingredients here so I could try it!

  8. Not sure how things are in Jamaica - but Chinese grocers are the best option (at least that's our experience here). Are there many asian shops in Jamaica?

  9. Mmm...sukiyaki. I will have to wait for the winter to come around before I can use this recipe. Do you have a good shabu shabu recipe too?

  10. Hmmm - shabu shabu. Not a bad idea. But - sukiyaki's not only a winter dish... though perhaps it's better on a cold winter's night.