Dinner project: Sukiyaki

It’s getting colder now, so it’s time to start making hot pots! One of my favourites is sukiyaki, a hearty salty-sweet meal that’s homey and comforting. My mom gave me a nice clay hot pot a few years ago, but you can use a wok or maybe a sauce pan or something. My mom does it properly and cooks it at the table on a portable burner, but I usually just make it on the stove.

The meat in sukiyaki is a thinly-sliced beef. I like to put in some hakusai (napa cabbage), shiitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms (so good!), firm tofu, konnyaku noodles, and green onion. All ingredients (except the beef) should be cut into bite-sized pieces. T&T makes all the ingredients very easy to get, which wasn’t the case when I was growing up. Instead of konnyaku noodles, we had to use rice vermicelli, which is just not the same. And forget about getting enoki mushrooms! We are so very lucky these days.

I start by cooking the hakusai in a soup made of about a cup of water (use the mushroom water if you are using dried shiitake), a half cup of soy sauce, a tablespoon of sugar, and a quarter cup of mirin. This is all approximate, of course. Adjust to taste. I don’t like mine too sweet. Add the other ingredients. If you are cooking at the table, you can save the meat for last and cook it to your desired done-ness, shabu-shabu style. I usually just chuck it in at the last minute so I can get it all medium-rare.

All the flavours get rich and delicious. Serve with hot, fresh Japanese rice. Traditionally, you dish out each portion into a bowl of beaten raw egg, which gives everything an added creaminess. However, if you are weird about raw eggs, I understand. Your call. I’ve been eating raw eggs all my life and never had a problem. Either way: so delicious! I’m ready for winter!

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