On a recent trip to Hokkaido, I finally got to try sukiyaki. It’s a pretty commonplace dish, one that I’ve never tried because most of the time sukiyaki tends to be a quintessential beef hotpot dish. I don’t eat beef so I could never have it. In Hokkaido however, I found a sukiyaki place that offers the pork option. After cooking the pork in the sauce and dipping it in raw egg, I fell immediately in love with sukiyaki.
Many cooking videos and recipes later I discovered that there are two main types of sukiyaki; kansai style sukiyaki and kanto style sukiyaki. Kansai style sukiyaki calls for the method of frying the meat in some rendered fat and sugar before adding the sauce and the rest of the ingredients to the pot. Kanto style is where the sauce, called warishita (割り下）, is prepared beforehand and everything is thrown in. This is what I am more familiar with. Normal chinese hotpot sessions normally have large boiling tubs of soup with various vegetables, fishballs and meat thrown in. I guess sukiyaki is a little more special as it seems to be geared towards good cuts of meat. It is also sweet and savory making the cooked meat perfect with a bowl of white rice.
I was initially worried about the idea of using raw egg back here in Malaysia. Salmonella and all. Then I discovered that pasteurized eggs are safe for raw consumption as they eliminate risk of Salmonella and Avian flu virus. Make sure you do your research before buying and consuming raw eggs in any circumstance! I bought mine from safeegg at Aeon:-
Ingredients (feeds 6 people)
- 3/4 cup sake
- 3/4 cup mirin
- 3/4 cup sugar and 1-2 tbsps extra sugar in case you want it sweeter (*edit* I used less sugar and found it so much better, around 2/3 cup. I’d recommend 2/3 cup of sugar rather than 3/4 cup as it is less cloying and enhances the taste of the ingredients better)
- 1.5 cups light soy sauce (I got the low sodium Kikkoman soy sauce, which is why I still had to add a little salt afterwards; it wasn’t salty enough ;p)
- 2 tsp salt
- 4.5 cups water
- 1.5 kg of sliced meat (I got some sliced pork belly, pork shoulder and even managed to get some kurobuta meat)
- 1 leek
- 4 stalks of spring onion
- 6 pasteurized eggs
- 1 carrot
- 1 large onion
- 1 pack firm tofu
- 1 pack enoji mushroom
- 10-12 fresh shiitake mushrooms
- 1 pack other mushrooms (whichever you like)
- Shungiku leaves – I couldn’t find these so I used mizuna. You can use any other preferred leafy vegetables
- 1/2 chinese cabbage
- Udon (I used 3 packets but since we also had rice we couldn’t finish all the udon. Cook as much as you think you need)
For sukiyaki it would be sufficient if you had a multi-purpose cooker placed in the center of the table so as to cook all the food as you eat. I do NOT think it is a good idea to throw in all the ingredients and cook it in the kitchen and brought over to the table. It pretty much defeats the purpose of sukiyaki and more often than not your ingredients will be overcooked and will lack the “freshly cooked” taste to it. I used a cast iron pot with sides high enough so that I can fit all the vegetables comfortably, as well as a hot plate.
- Wash all the vegetables and mushrooms.
- Cut off the roots of the spring onions and cut the spring onions into 3 sections.
- Cut off the roots of the enoki mushrooms and separate them
- Cut off the stems of the shiitake mushrooms and create star shape patterns onto the cap of the mushrooms
It’s also a good idea to arrange the vegetables in large plates as you go along. Presentation is always important in Japanese cuisine!
- Slice the carrot thickly
- Slice onion
- Cut the chinese cabbage into bite sized pieces
- Pour a tablespoon of oil into a frying pan and fry/sear the surface of the tofu. What we are making here is yaki-dofu or grilled tofu. This is a good step-by-step on how to make it:http://japanese-kitchen.net/yaki-dofu-grilled-tofu/
- Once you’re done searing the tofu, cut it into bite sized pieces
Tadahhh! All that effort of cleaning and cutting those vegetables! Not to mention searing tofu. I accidentally broke off some of the edges T___T
- Prepare the udon according to instructions and set aside
- Drain the shirataki and set aside
Next, combine all the wareshita ingredients in the pot and simmer to dissolve sugar.
Prepare all the meat and have it on standby with the vegetables.
Start the sukiyaki feast!
Place your pot on the hot plate and bring the sauce to a simmer. Cook the meat, dip into raw beaten egg and eat with fresh white rice. Throw the ingredients in according to your preference but I’d suggest putting in the leeks, onions and carrots first along with the meat as it lends more sweetness to the sauce. Not that it matters much, the sauce is already sweet enough, it’s just that these vegetables also take more time to cook. Enjoy!!