As I continue to watch news regarding the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear incidents coming out of Japan, it is very difficult for me to imagine the lives of millions of people in northeastern Japan still without electricity or water in near freezing temperature. The earthquake experts are saying there will be a 40% probability of a new earthquake exceeding magnitude 5.0 occurring over the next few days. I spoke to my mom who lives in Yokohama (near Tokyo), and it seems like people are confused and terrified about what else could happen. All my prayers to the people of Japan.
If you live in or near an earthquake area, make sure you have earthquake emergency packs ready for you and your family. Here’s the link to the USGS article for the SF Bay area (http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/2005/15/) for additional information.
Besides Shabu Shabu, another popular Japanese hot pot dish (nabemono) is Sukiyaki. The main ingredient is thinly sliced beef simmered in the sukiyaki sauce. The beef slices for Sukiyaki is slightly thicker than Shabu Shabu. Pay attention to the label on the meat package in Japanese supermarkets because they are usually labeled specifically for Shabu Shabu or Sukiyaki.
Shabu Shabu is usually prepared and cooked in an earthen pot but Sukiyaki uses a cast-iron pot. We put many vegetables and other ingredients in addition to the thinly sliced beef. The quality of beef used in Sukiyaki is very important and you need to pick marbled fatty beef for this dish. Sukiyaki is usually cooked on the dining table over a portable stove and each person uses their chopsticks to pick up the ingredients from the pan as they are being cooked.
It’s a perfect dinner for family and friends get together, and not to mention, all you have to do is to chop ingredients before dinner time! The following direction is for Kansai style sukiyaki where the meat is cooked first before the rest of the ingredients are added. Kanto style sukiyaki places all the ingredients in the pot and cook at the same time. Although it’s not recommended for health reasons in the US, Japanese usually enjoy dipping the cooked Sukiyaki food in fresh raw egg. The sweetness of the raw egg coating the food tastes pretty amazing.
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- 1 lb thinly sliced beef for Sukiyaki
- 1 medium size napa cabbage
- 1 bunch shungiku (Tong Hao in Chinese, or Garland Chrysanthemum)
- 8 shiitake mushrooms, curve decorative shapes
- 2 pkgs enoki mushrooms
- 1 pkg shimeji mushrooms
- 1 negi/Tokyo Negi
- 1 yaki tofu
- 1 pkg shirataki noodles (yam noodles) or cellophane noodles, rinsed and drained
- ⅓ carrot, curve into flower petals
- 1 Tbsp. oil or lard
- 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 cup dashi (or water) to dilute the sauce
- 4 pasteurized eggs for dipping (please use very fresh raw eggs), beaten in each dipping bowl
- 1 pkg udon (I like sanuki udon)
- Cut all ingredients into bite-size pieces and arrange them on a large plate (I forgot to put Shirataki in the picture below).
- Make Sauce. In a medium saucepan, combine all of the ingredients for Sukiyaki Sauce, and bring it to a boil. Set aside.
- Set a portable gas cook top at the table and put a cast iron pot. Heat oil in the pot.
- Add beef.
- Sprinkle brown sugar (I think this is Osaka style and that’s how my mom used to cook).
- Flip the beef.
- Pour 1 cup of Sukiyaki Sauce and ⅓ of dashi (or water) in the pot.
- Bring it to a boil.
- Add other ingredients and put a lid.
- When it boils again, lower the heat and let it simmer until all of the ingredients are soft. If the sauce is salty, add dashi to adjust. Crack one egg into a small serving bowl (serve per person) and beat carefully. Dip the cooked sukiyaki into the egg and eat. The salty taste will be more mild after dipping the egg.
- When you add more ingredients later on, adjust the sauce in the pot by adding more Sukiyaki Sauce and/or dashi. The sauce in the pot can get salty by cooking for a long time. In that case, add dashi stock to dilute the sauce. On the other hand, if the sauce got diluted by adding lots of veggies, then add more Sukiyaki Sauce.
- When most of the ingredients are gone, add in udon and cook for a few minutes. We usually eat noodles at the end to finish the meal.