Well known and loved in the West, this Japanese dish is enjoyed in its native land in the cold winter months when friends and family gather together around the kotatsu, a table-and-heating unit all-in-one that creates a wonderfully cozy atmosphere. Even without the added warmth of legs under the kotatsu blanket, sukiyaki is sure to take the chill out of you on the most blustery winter day. The recipe here is for the Tokyo version of this famous dish. If uncooked eggs are not your thing, just forget about them.
Partially freeze the meat to ensure ease in slicing it thin. Paper-thin slices about
Place all of the above ingredients and the piece of suet on a large platter or tray and bring it to the table. Also have ready a small pitcher or bowl of soy sauce, another of rice wine, a third of soup stock and a fourth of sugar. These will be used while cooking. For each person, have a small individual bowl into which a fresh uncooked egg has been dropped. The egg is beaten lightly at the table and used as a dipping sauce for the braised meat and vegetables.
Heat a heavy skillet on a table-top cooking unit and melt the suet in it, oiling the surface to prevent the meat from sticking. Lay one-third of the meat and leeks in the skillet. Sear the meat; remove and discard the suet. Then push the meat over to make room for one-third of the cabbage (or bean sprouts) and mushrooms. Season the foods with one-third of the soy sauce, rice wine, sugar and stock. Lower the heat to maintain a steady simmer, add some gelatin-like noodles, and cook the meat and vegetables for 3–4 minutes. Add one-third of the chrysanthemum leaves, cook for another minute, then let everyone start to help himself to whatever he wants. Replenish the skillet with half of the remaining ingredients, adding the chrysanthemum leaves at the last minute, and cook as you did before. Eat, then cook the remaining meat and vegetables in the same manner.
© 1986 Elizabeth Andoh. All rights reserved.