My friend, Midori and her daughter, Mimi came from Japan to visit and I requested that she make my favorite Japanese dish; Sukiyaki.
Read about Midori’s other visit here.
A hallmark of Japanese cooking is that it is simple yet aesthetically pleasing. Throughout Asia, Hot-Pot is a common method of cooking in communal fashion. The raw ingredients are prepared and presented on a platter at the table. There, the cooking pot is available for each person at the table to add ingredients and participate in the cooking process.
Sukiyaki is a hot-pot feast that is traditionally cooked in the home, though there are some high end restaurants or ryou tei that serve it. It is considered a special meal. In Japan, due to the very dense population in such a small land mass, beef is considered a luxury. Midori tells me that the cost of beef is incredibly high in her country. Sukiyaki requires a quality cut of beef. We used a cut of beef boneless strip loin from Certified Black Angus (this cut of beef is what Americans would refer to as a New York steak). The Certified Black Angus is a quality brand providing a consistently excellent product.
16 – 20 ounces of Beef, Boneless Strip Loin (a New York steak).** see footnote “about beef fat”. The meat is sliced very thin.
1 large leek (called negi in Japanese) cut in half lengthwise, washed well and and sliced 1 inch pieces.
8 Shiitaki mushrooms *** remove the stems.
1 pound of tofu cut into bite size cubes.
1 syungiku (chrysanthemum greens) washed and cut in 2 inch lengths
Sauce ingredients: 1/3 cup of soy sauce / 3 Tablespoons Saki / 5Tablespoons of sugar / 3/4 cup of water. There are commercial brands of this mixture available.
Arrange all the solid ingredients on a large platter.
Combine the liquid ingredients to make the sauce and set aside.
Heat the pan and begin to render the fat from the beef until there is enough oil in the pan to sear the slices of meat.
Sear the meat then, pour the sauce mixture into the pan and bring to a boil.
Add the rest of the ingredients and reduce the heat.
Allow the pot to simmer until the leeks are softened and the noodles are hot.
It is customary to top-off each plate with a raw egg. We chose to lightly poach the egg. Unfortunately, we did not have any syungiku available.
** About beef fat; It is the current trend in American diet to reduce fat consumption. People are very conscious of cholesterol levels and eating meat fat is not popular. However, in other cultures meat fat is sought after for its excellent flavor. In many other countries it is common to use fat rendered from the animal when cooking. It is cost effective, readily available and flavorful. In the traditional style of making sukiyaki, the fat from the piece of meat is rendered in the cooking pan prior to adding the meat and other ingredients.
*** link to grow your own mushrooms here