Sukiyaki (すき焼き) is a popular Japanese hot pot dish which is often cooked and served at the table, similar like Shabu Shabu (しゃぶしゃぶ).
If you familiar with Japanese hot pot dish, you have probably heard of Shabu Shabu. With shabu shabu, you cook thinly sliced beef and pork in a clear kombu-based broth. The flavor is subtle and you dip the food in a ponzu or sesame based sauce.
Sukiyaki is completely different; the food is cooked in a sweet and salty soy sauce based broth and full of bold flavors straight from the pot.
Besides the broth, the pot used to cook sukiyaki is also quite different from shabu shabu. Traditionally it is cooked in a cast iron pot while Shabu Shabu is cooked in a Japanese clay pot called donabe (土鍋), and the thinly sliced beef (but slightly thicker than shabu shabu meat) are seared first in the pot before adding ingredients and broth.
Despite having different flavor and cooking utensil, most Sukiyaki ingredients are similar to Shabu Shabu, such as leafy vegetables, tofu, shiitake mushroom, and so on.
Kansai Style vs. Kanto Style
As my mom’s side of family is from Osaka (Kansai) and my dad’s side is from Tokyo (Kanto), my sukiyaki recipe is the combination of both Kansai style and Kanto style.
In Kansai (Osaka) area, we sear the meat and season with sugar, soy sauce and sake. Then we enjoy some of the meat first before the rest of the ingredients are added to the pot. However in Kanto (Tokyo) area, we make Sukiyaki Sauce (Warishita, 割り下) first, and all the ingredients are cooked at the same time in the Sukiyaki Sauce.
For the sliced beef, if you shop at Japanese grocery stores, look in the meat section. There is usually pre-sliced beef, and they are specifically labeled as beef for Shabu Shabu or Sukiyaki.
(photo from my Instagram)
The Japanese likes to splurge and enjoy really good quality meat for both Sukiyaki and Shabu Shabu. Wagyu (beef from cows raised in Japan) is very expensive ($40/lb), so typically each person only enjoys about 120-150 grams of sliced meat.
When you shop for the meat, find well-marbled piece of meat so that fat of the meat becomes tender when you eat. Otherwise, it’ll very chewy after being cooked.
If you can’t find pre-sliced beef, you can try slicing the beef chunk at your home. Follow my directions and tricks on How To Slice Meet.
Substitutions of ingredients for Sukiyaki
Some of ingredients we put in Sukiyaki (or Shabu Shabu) like napa cabbage and shungiku may not be easy to find in where you live. If so, use available mushrooms and leafy vegetables such as cabbage, spinach, and bok choy.
You can substitute Leeks and scallions/green onions for Tokyo Negi. Instead of shirataki noodles (yam noodles), you can use vermicelli.
Cooking at Dining Table
Sukiyaki is usually cooked over a portable stove at the dining table and each person uses their own chopsticks to pick up the ingredients from the pot and add more ingredients as the food disappears from the pot.
It’s a fun dinner for family and friends’ get-together, and not to mention, all you have to do is to chop ingredients before dinner time!
How to Eat Sukiyaki the “Authentic” Way
I am a bit hesitant and actually slightly reluctant to talk about the “authentic” way the Japanese enjoy Sukiyaki as some of you may not find it appetizing. However, I do want to let you know in case you end up enjoying this dish in Japan and you won’t get caught off guard.
So, in Japan, a lot of people dip the cooked ingredients in raw egg. I know, I can almost hear “eww” from the some of my readers but that’s the fact. I actually recommend you to try if you are in Japan where eggs are sometimes safe to consume raw. The sweetness from raw egg coats well with salty vegetables and meat and it balances out the flavors very well. However, this is entirely up to your preference. Here in the U.S., raw eggs are not safe to eat, so please don’t try.
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- 1-2 package udon
- ½ head napa cabbage (about 10 leaves/1.8 oz/690 g)
- ½ bunch shungiku (Tong Hao or Garland Chrysanthemum) (7 oz/200 g)
- 1 negi/Tokyo negi/long onion
- 1 package enoki mushrooms
- 8 shiitake mushrooms, carve decorative shapes
- 1 package Yaki Tofu (Broiled Tofu) (9 oz/255 g)
- ⅓ carrot for decoration (optional)
- 1 package shirataki noodles (yam noodles) or cellophane noodles (7 oz/198 g)
- 1 Tbsp. cooking oil
- 1 lb (454 g) thinly sliced beef rib eye for Sukiyaki (or slice your own meat)
- 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 cup dashi (or water) to dilute the sauce
- Combine 1 cup sake, 1 cup mirin, ¼ cup sugar, and 1 cup soy sauce in a small sauce pan and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, turn off the heat and set aside.
- If your udon is frozen, cook it in boiling water until loosen. Remove from heat and soak in iced water to prevent overcooking them. Drain and transfer to a plate.
- Prepare sukiyaki ingredients. Cut napa cabbage into 2” (5 cm) wide then cut in half right at the middle of the white part.
- Cut shungiku into 2” (5 cm) wide, and slice Tokyo negi. Discard the bottom part of enoki and tear into smaller bundles.
- Discard the shiitake stem and decorate the top of shiitake if you like.
- Cut tofu into smaller pieces (I usually cut into 6-8 pieces).
- If you like, you can slice some carrots and then stamp them into a floral shape for decoration.
- Drain and rinse the shirataki noodles (sorry no photo). Put all the ingredients on one big platter for the table or into smaller individual servings.
- Set a portable gas cook top at the dining table and heat a cast iron sukiyaki pot (or any pot) on medium heat. When it’s hot, add 1 Tbsp. cooking oil.
- Place some of sliced beef to sear and sprinkle 1 Tbsp. brown sugar. Flip and cook the meat. You can pour a little bit of Sukiyaki Sauce over the meat and enjoy the sweet and nicely caramelized meat now, or continue to next step and eat it later.
- Pour 1 cup of Sukiyaki Sauce and ⅓ cup dashi (or water) in the pot.
- Place some of the ingredients in the pot (except for udon). Put the lid on and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat and simmer until the ingredients are cooked through.
- Once the food is cooked, you can start enjoying them. Keep adding more ingredients and sauce as you eat from the pot. If the sauce is too salty, add dashi to dilute. If the vegetables diluted the sauce too much, then add more sukiyaki sauce.
- We usually end the sukiyaki meal with udon. When most of the ingredients have disappeared, add udon to the pot. Cook until heated through and enjoy.
Here in the US, raw eggs are not recommended for consumption. Please skip unless you’re certain the egg in your area is safe to consume raw.
Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe with your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.
Update: Each month 20% of proceeds from selling my eBook will go to charity. For January 2015, I donated to International Rescue Committee. Thank you so much for those who purchased my eBook!