One pot with all the flavors – this sukiyaki is delicious! Continuing our theme this month of Asian cuisine, this week we will be sharing another Japanese recipe that we tried for the first time recently. This recipe was new to us, but boy, did it become an instant favorite in our household. It’s a very easy and filling recipe that any level of cooking ability can execute with ease. This recipe falls under the classification of one pot wonder, and the ingredients can be interchangeable to what ever your heart desires or whatever is seasonally available in your supermarket. For this week we are sharing the Japanese hot pot classic Sukiyaki. It’s a dish that is quick to make, relatively cheap, as well as healthy. It’s something that is continuing some of our new lifestyle changes that we are trying to make. The best part about this meal is that you can completely customize it to be vegetarian if you’d prefer, and, using the correct ingredients, can be gluten free and dairy free.
Before we dive into the recipe, I thought I would share some interesting facts about Asian hot pots that you might enjoy; if you don’t want a history lesson, feel free to skip ahead to the recipe.
History of hot pot
The hot pot style of cooking ingredients in a metal pot of liquid is referenced in many East Asian cultures. In Chinese culture, the history of hot pots can be dated back more than 1,000 years. It seems to have originated in Mongolia and the Jin Dynasty. By the Qin Dynasty (AD 1642 to 1912) the popularity of the dish expanded throughout China.
Nabemono, which is what the hot pot is known as in Japan is used to make two popular dishes: Shabu-Shabu and Sukiyaki.
Shabu-Shabu is a hot pot that is prepared by submerging very thinly sliced meats or pieces of vegetables in a bot of broth made with kombu (kelp) and by swishing those ingredients back and forth multiple times. The swishing sounds is actually where the name shabu-shabu actually comes from; it translates to “swish swish.” With the sHamburg-shabu style of cooking, it tends to cook the meat to a “blue rare” to rare temperature. Because of this, most Japanese restaurants try to use higher grades of Japanese beef. With the higher quality of beef the price of this dish tends to be higher, making it a fine dining style of eating.
The other hot pot, which is consider the most popular dishes among Japanese and the most well known globally, is the Sukiyaki hot pot. This type of dish doesn’t necessarily require the higher priced ingredients like Shabu-shabu does because it requires a longer cooking process, which further cooks the meat and other ingredients in the broth. We have now made this on two separate occasions, once with the traditional thinly sliced meat and another time with meat that we cut into strips. Both times turned out well.
Sukiyaki is generally known to be a winter dish that is traditionally served at Bonenka, Japanese year end drinking parties. This dish is so simple and inexpensive, it’s a dish that can be prepared all year long and with whatever ingredients that you have on hand. The development of Sukiyaki occurred during the Meisi era. Different regions of Japan have come up with their own variation of the process of how to prepare sukiyaki. The most common styles are the Kanto style of Eastern Japan, and the Kansai style of Western Japan. The Kanto style involved first preparing the sukiyaki broth, the warshita (which most commonly includes: sake, soy sauce, sugar, mirin, and dashi). The meat and other ingredients are then cooked by simmering them in the broth. With the Kansai style they cook the meat first, and then add the broth and the other ingredients. Both styles serve the sukiyaki with raw beaten eggs to use as a dipping sauce for the ingredients; I don’t recommend this solely on the fact that the quality of eggs in the US are no where near the quality in Japan.
Now that we have both learned a little about the history of hot pots and our dish for this week, Sukiyaki, now we can dive into the Kanto style recipe we recently tried that has now become a stable dish in our home.
prepare for sukiyaki
Prep work: get all of your mise en place ready before cooking. Slice the meat, dice of the veggies, weigh out the liquid ingredients, etc. Having all of this ready before you start cooking will help to streamline the entire process. Once the cooking process has started, it’s a race to the delicious finish line!
For the sukiyaki broth, the warshita, the process is extremely easy. All you have to do it is remember the ratio 2 to 1 to 1. Two parts sake to one part soy sauce to one part mirin.
The first time that we made sukiyaki, we bought the thinly sliced meat, the type that you would usually see in Pho. It’s sliced to the perfect thickness, where it cooks incredibly fast without becoming too chewy. For this ingredient and most of the others for the recipes for this month we visited one of our Asian markets called 99 Ranch Market, which apparently has multiple locations across the nation. I recommend when making a dish from a particular cuisine to visit that type of market to get the most authentic ingredients (most of the stores tend to be more value for your money as well).
Another ingredient that we had gotten from the Asian Market that I am sure many people may not recognize is shirataki yam noodle. Shirataki noodles are low-carb and gluten free noodles made for the root of the konjac plant. These noodles are tender and absorb whatever flavors you cook with them, making it perfect for sukiyaki.
Preferably in a metal pot, over medium heat, layer the sliced onion on the bottom of the pan and pour in the liquids. The onions may not be completely submerged, which is fine because all of the veggies will release water as they cook. Bring the mixture to a boil to cook off the alcohol, and turn off the heat.
Once the heat is off, quickly start to assemble the sukiyaki with the meat in the middle and then the other ingredients around it, except the cabbage. Put on a tight fitting lid and bring to a simmer, cooking for about 8 minutes.
When all of the ingredients are fully cooked, you can then start mixing in the cabbage and cook for an additional 2 minutes. You can either cut strips of cabbage, or leave the leaf whole, as shown below.
You can serve over rice or noodles. Since most rice takes 20-35 minutes to prepare, I would begin cooking this first and then start the sukiyaki when the rice has 10 minutes more to go.
From our home to yours, I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do, and remember to always stay hungry!