Sukiyaki, perhaps the most well-known Japanese nabemono dish, is one of the easiest and most satisfying meals you can make. Unlike most of Japanese cuisine which requires a lot of specialty ingredients, Sukiyaki uses fairly mundane stuff, and winter vegetables that are plentiful just about everywhere this time of year — cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, onions, scallions and firm tofu, and of course, thinly sliced rib-eye steak. The one specialty ingredient, shirataki noodles, which is made from the processed gelatinized corm of the konnyaku tuber, can be easily substituted with cellophane noodles which are commonly found in Asian supermarkets. Or, you can just plain leave them out, or use a different type of noodle, such as udon.
Sukiyaki starts with a broth which is used to simmer the components. Different regions of Japan use different recipes, and preparations vary slightly from family to family. The broth used in the Sukiyaki above is a bit of marudaizu-grade Japanese soy sauce (a cooking-grade Kikkoman or Yamasa will do), some sugar, a bit of rice wine (you can use Sake or Mirin or Chinese rice wine even) and some stock, with some Japanese “Soup Base” added, which is a convenience product that is essentially concentrated dashi stock mixed with soy sauce. In other preparations water is used instead of stock, and if you can’t make dashi or find Japanese soup base its no big deal, just use more soy sauce, and tune the broth to your taste.
Here’s a nice close-up shot showing some finer detail:
Some Japanese like to use a small dish of raw egg on the side to dip the beef pieces in — but we’re a bit nontraditional and like to throw whole raw eggs into the sukiyaki broth to poach.
Some steamed white short-grain Japanese rice is usually the accompaniment to Sukiyaki. But tonight, I made a hibachi style, Benihana-type fried rice to go with our meal: