As a kid I called it “suki yucky” because I was tickled by the oxymoron (suki means like or love in Japanese). Sukiyaki was a treat growing up. My mom would plop the portable electric stove on the dining table and the meat, vegetables, and tofu would bubble as we filled our bowls, then dipped the piping hot food into a small bowl of raw egg and slurp. She had a well-seasoned iron pot used just for this occasion. I don’t own a sukiyaki pot, which is why I never thought to make it on my own.
But reading about Sukiyaki Don in Harumi Kurihara’s Your Japanese Kitchen 1, I was surprised how quickly and easily this comes together. The eating experience is different of course, but the recipe is great for a fast but hearty and satisfying one-bowl meal.
I love the bitterness of shungiku (garland chrysanthemum) in hot pots and dishes like this sukiyaki. The market didn’t carry it, so I had to make due with napa cabbage and chard. If you find it, use it and you’ll see how great it tastes alongside a piece of sweet meat. I know people have a strong dislike for beni shoga, but if you use it in moderation, I think it punctuates the dish nicely, making the flavors more layered. Also, I cooked this in two batches because it didn’t all fit in my 12″ skillet.
Sukiyaki Don (Sukiyaki on Rice)
Adapted from Your Japanese Kitchen
Makes 4 servings
200 g. thinly sliced beef
2 Japanese leeks (I used 2 small American leeks)
200 g. konnyaku noodles
1 package grilled tofu
1 package enoki
1/3 bunch shungiku (I used 1/4 napa cabbage and a couple of leaves of chard)
100 ml mirin
100 ml sake
100 ml shoyu
2 Tbsp. sugar
Bring a small pot of water to boil. Meanwhile, cut leeks into 1/2 inch pieces diagonally. Drain the tofu and cut into 8 pieces. Cut the shungiku (or napa cabbage and chard) into bite-sized pieces. When the water comes to a boil, blanch the konnyaku noodles and drain. When the noodles are cooled, cut into bite-sized pieces.
Make the sauce by combining the mirin, sake, shoyu, and sugar in a bowl and whisk.
In a large skillet, over medium heat, add a small amount of oil and fry the leeks (and the thick parts of the napa cabbage, if using), and beef until browned. Add the noodles, tofu, and enoki (and leafy parts of the napa cabbage and chard, if using). Immediately pour the sauce mixture over the entire pan and let simmer for a couple of minutes. Turn pieces of tofu and other ingredients, lower the heat, cover and continue to simmer until the vegetables are cooked, about 5 minutes. In the sukiyaki pot, add the shungiku and cook until heated through. In a separate pot, poach the eggs.
Put rice in a serving bowl and top with sukiyaki, poached egg, and garnish with shoga.