Braised Beef and Vegetables

Sukiyaki

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Complex

  • Serves

    6–8

    with lots of hot white rice and assorted pickled vegetables.

Appears in

At Home with Japanese Cooking

At Home with Japanese Cooking

By Elizabeth Andoh

Published 1986

  • About

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.

Ingredients

  • pounds well-marbled beef sirloin
  • 3–4 leeks
  • 2 cakes yaki-dōfu (grilled bean curd)
  • 1 can or package shirataki (“white waterfall”; gelatin-like noodles)
  • ½ pound hakusai (Chinese cabbage) or moyashi (bean sprouts)
  • ½ pound shungiku (chrysanthemum leaves)
  • ¼ pound fresh mushrooms
  • Large piece of beef suet
  • ½–⅔ cup soy sauce
  • ¼–⅓ cup saké (rice wine)
  • ½ cup dashi (Basic Soup Stock)
  • Up to ¼ cup sugar
  • 6–8 fresh eggs

Method

Partially freeze the meat to ensure ease in slicing it thin. Paper-thin slices about 2 inches square are ideal. Trim the leeks and use the white parts, cutting them on the diagonal into ¼-inch-thick slices. Drain the cakes of grilled bean curd (they come packed in water) and cut each in half lengthwise, then cut each half across 3 times to make 16 bite-size blocks. Drain the can or package of gelatin-like noodles and cut them into approximately 6-inch lengths. Rinse and pat dry the cabbage, cut it into 1-inch-thick wedges and slice the wedges across into 2-inch pieces. Or rinse and drain the bean sprouts, discarding any discolored ones. Rinse and pat dry the chrysanthemum leaves, trim off any roots or flowering buds and cut long stalks into 5–6-inch lengths. Wash, pat dry and trim off the stems of the mushrooms. Flute them if you wish, or slice them in half, if large.

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.