Sukiyaki is among Japan’s delicious hot pot dishes, which are locally known as naberyouri (鍋料理), nabemono (鍋物), or onabe (お鍋). It’s an excellent food to enjoy to fight the coldness of winter months and rainy days.
This hot pot dish is usually cooked on the dining table together with family and friends. It uses marbled beef and some vegetables. In today’s post, you’ll learn more about this mouthwatering dish and how to cook it as well.
The term sukiyaki is a combination of the words suki (鋤) and yaki (焼). The latter means grill while the former means plowshare. It refers to the days when meat was grilled outside in respect to Buddhist customs.
Since it’s a common dish during the winter, you’ll likely see it at Japan’s year-end parties or bonenkai (忘年会). It’s also served during family gatherings and other special occasions.
The traditional Japanese meat dish has thinly sliced beef, shiitake mushrooms, green onions, and tofu. In an iron pot, the ingredients are slowly simmered in warishita broth, which consists of two kinds of Japanese cooking wine, soy sauce, and sugar.
The sukiyaki has a rich flavor that comes from its meat and veggies. It is a combination of sweet and salty, which you’ll usually taste in a teriyaki sauce. But since its ingredients include beef and vegetables, it has its own unique taste.
Did you know that there are different ways to cook sukiyaki? The ones you typically see in restaurants are the Kanto-style sukiyaki. As the name suggests, it originates from the Kanto region in Japan, where the Greater Tokyo Area and seven other prefectures are located.
Previously, the dish was known as gyu nabe or beef pot, but that was only until 1923’s Great Kanto Earthquake. At the time, restaurants serving the dish were destroyed and had to close down. Afterward, sukiyaki businesses from Kansai began establishing their restaurants in the Kanto region, which caused the eventual spread of the Kansai-style dish.
After some time, the two dishes were combined, creating the new Kanto-style sukiyaki that uses warishita.
When making the Kanto-style sukiyaki, you pour the warishita into the cooking pot and heat it. All its ingredients are simmered together.
On the other hand, the Kansai-style sukiyaki, which originated from the Kansai region, is made by grilling beef and veggies. They don’t let the ingredients simmer in warishita broth.
Kansai locals would put the meat, season it with soy sauce and sugar, then add the rest of the ingredients. You would even see people eating the meat first before they add the vegetables to the remaining beef slices.
Shabu-shabu and sukiyaki may be two similar hotpot dishes since they can both have thinly sliced beef and vegetables, but they are cooked using different methods. Moreover, sukiyaki is a dish that is simmered in a sweet soy sauce-based broth, and typically includes ingredients such as thinly sliced beef, vegetables, and tofu. Shabu-shabu, on the other hand, is cooked in a clear broth (a kombu-based one) and often features thinly sliced meat (usually pork or beef) and vegetables.
Flavor-wise, you are treated to a rich flavor coming from the meat and veggies and a sweet-salty flavor from the sugar and soy sauce when you eat sukiyaki. As for shabu-shabu, you get subtly flavored fatty meat.
Yet another big difference is the fact that sukiyaki is traditionally eaten by dipping the ingredients in a beaten egg. This practice is absent when you eat shabu-shabu. Instead of eggs, you use ponzu or any other sesame-based sauce as the dip.
When you take out your shirataki noodles from their packaging, you will smell a fish-like odor from its liquid. The smell is actually from the konjac root, which was absorbed by the water.
So before using the noodles for your sukiyaki, it’s important to rinse them with water for about two to three minutes. Doing so will mostly get rid of the odor. You can also preboil your shirataki using the steps below:
Place your shirataki noodles in a bowl. Add a bit of salt and mix them together with your hands. Leave the noodles for five minutes then rinse with water.
Let some water simmer in a saucepan. Add the shirataki noodles and let them boil for about a minute. Remove from heat afterward.
Strain the noodles. Cut them according to your desired length.
Not every ingredient we listed above can be found in some countries. For example, you might not find some shungiku in your local supermarket. You can always substitute some ingredients to be able to enjoy sukiyaki in the comfort of your own home.
Use the mushrooms and vegetables you can easily buy locally. Use spinach, bok choy, and cabbages. You can also add carrots (cut into cute shapes according to your preference) to your sukiyaki.
Go for scallions, leeks, or green onions if the naganegi isn’t available. Then replace the shirataki noodles with vermicelli.
Have you tried this recipe already? Let us know! If you want to try more noodles with your sukiyaki, get yourself an awesome Japanese noodle pack delivered to your home!