Sukiyaki (鋤焼, or more commonly すき焼き) is a Japanese dish, of the soup or stew type, prepared and served in the Nabemono style (Japanese hot pot).
It consists of meat (usually thinly sliced beef) which is slowly cooked or simmered at the table, alongside vegetables and other ingredients, in a shallow iron pot in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, and mirin. Before being eaten, the ingredients are usually dipped in a small bowl of raw, beaten eggs.
Generally sukiyaki is a winter dish and it is commonly found at bōnenkai, Japanese year-end parties.
General Preparation of Sukiyaki
Like other nabemono dishes, each region has a preferred way of cooking sukiyaki. The key difference is between the western Kansai region and the eastern Kantō region. In Tokyo, the ingredients are stewed in a prepared mixture of soy sauce, sugar, sake and mirin, whereas in Osaka, the meat is first grilled in the pan greased with tallow. After other ingredients are put over these, the liquid is poured into the pan. The shungiku are added when all the ingredients are simmering. A raw egg is broken into a serving bowl, one egg for each person. Some prefer to add a bit of soy sauce and the egg is lightly beaten. The meat and vegetables are dipped into this sauce before being eaten.
It is said to be advisable to place the jelly-noodles away from the beef because the calcium contained in the noodles can toughen meat.
- 200 g thinly sliced beef
- 1 egg, for dipping (optional)
- 200 g napa cabbage, sliced
- 100 g shungiku, (Japanese garland chrysanthemum)
- 150 g firm tofu, seared, sliced
- 200 g shirataki noodles, jelly-like noodles cooked in boiling water for 2 minutes, then plunged in ice water bath for a few minutes and drained
- 1 stalk negi, sliced thinly and diagonally
- 4 shiitake mushrooms, stalks removed then make a 6-star flower cut on the mushroom cap
- enoki mushrooms, ends trimmed
- cooked udon or soba noodles
For sukiyaki sauce
- 100 ml sake
- 50 ml mirin
- 50 ml light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Bring the sukiyaki sauce ingredients to a simmer. Set aside.
- In a wide & shallow sukiyaki pot, add beef and a few tablespoons of sukiyaki sauce. Push the beef to one side. Add the other ingredients and the remaining sukiyaki sauce. Cover with lid and simmer for a few minutes.
- When serving, you may dip the ingredients in raw beaten egg. Add cooked udon or soba noodles at the end to soak up the remaining broth.
Cooks Notes & Variations
Shungiku: any dark leafy greens
Negi: large spring onions (the type that resembles leeks) or regular spring onions.
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History of Sukiyaki
Some anecdotes are known about the early history of sukiyaki. One is about a medieval nobleman. He stopped at a peasant’s hut after a hunt and ordered him to cook the game. The peasant realised that his cooking utensils were improper for the noble, so he cleaned up his spade (suki in Japanese) and broiled (yaki) the meat on it. Another story is about the Portuguese in the sixteenth century in Japan, where beef was not common food. They eagerly ate meat everywhere, even on suki. Yet another history is that peasants would cook sweet potatoes in the field, doing so in their spades they would need to carry less gear.
In the 1860s when Japan was opened to foreigners, new cooking styles were also introduced. Cows, milk, meat, and eggs became widely used, and sukiyaki was the most popular way to serve them. The first sukiyaki restaurant, Isekuma, opened in Yokohama in 1862. Beef is the primary ingredient in today’s sukiyaki. There were two main ways of cooking sukiyaki: a Kantō (Tokyo area) and a Kansai (Osaka area) style. In the Kantō way, the special cooking sauce’s ingredients are already mixed. In the Kansai way, the sauce is mixed at the time of eating. But after the great Kanto earthquake of 1923, the people of Kantō temporarily moved to the Osaka area. While the people of Kantō were in Osaka, they got accustomed to the Kansai style of sukiyaki, and when they returned to Kantō, they introduced the Kansai sukiyaki style, where it has since become popular.
Dishes Related to Sukiyaki
- Shabu-shabu is similar, but whereas sukiyaki is considered more sweet, shabu-shabu is more savoury.
- Sukiyaki in Laos takes the form of a bowl of bean thread noodles, various vegetables, thinly-sliced beef and other meats or seafood, sukiyaki sauce, and a raw egg in beef broth. The sukiyaki sauce is made from coconut, fermented tofu, tahini, peanut butter, sugar, garlic, lime and spices.
- Thai suki or Thai sukiyaki is a very popular hot pot dish in Thailand and, increasingly, neighbouring countries. Despite the name, it bears only a vague resemblance to Japanese sukiyaki.
- Hot pot
- Fondue Bourguignonne & Fondue chinoise