Sukiyaki requires little cooking skill–all you need is fresh ingredients, a cast iron sukiyaki skillet and tabletop cooker or an electric skillet, and most importantly, good company (some alcoholic lubrication also helps). To serve, just one lightly beaten egg per person as dipping sauce.
Also essential is thinly sliced (for either shabu shabu or sukiyaki) wagyu beef. If you can’t get thinly sliced beef at your butcher, place the meat in the freezer and while partially frozen, slice into thin slices using a sharp knife.
For vegetables, you need shallots (lots as they wilt to nothing) chopped into 2-3 cm lengths, Chinese cabbage, chopped into similar sized pieces, fresh shiitake trimmed of stems and also some firm tofu cut into cubes. Also essential is beef suet or uneuphemistically, a big lump of beef fat. You can also add other mushrooms, like enoki, shimeji etc. and shirataki (noodles made from konnyaku root), white onion moons, and other greens like watercress or chrysanthemum leaves, bok choy, etc. and arrange on a big platter so everyone can bung into the skillet whatever they desire.
For the sukiyaki sauce, mix 1 cup of soy sauce and 1 cup of mirin with 8 tablespoons of sugar and bring to boil to dissolve sugar. This is called Warishita. Also make up another sauce called Tamazake which is equal amounts of sake and water.
Heat the skillet and line with suet and cook the beef slices first, add little of the Warishita sauce and then veges/tofu. If it becomes dry, add the Tamazake to prevent burning. When ready, everyone serves themselves, dipping into the raw egg before eating.
Continue to add ingredients and sauce until sated. if there are some leftovers, keep for the next day and add rice or udon for yummy stir fry.
Do you know the Sukiyaki Song? All Japanese know it. It’s like the Waltzing Matilda of Japan. It was the only Japanese song to ever become internationally famous, in the 1960’s. In Japanese, it’s “Ue o muite arukouyo” or “walk with your head held high”, to stop the tears from falling, or so the lyrics go. The reason it became known as the Sukiyaki Song is probably because sukiyaki is easy to pronounce, and the only thing people knew about Japan back then that wasn’t war-related. Though Kei’s theory is that sukiyaki is so yummy, you always eat too much, so you have to walk with your head held high to prevent yourself from barfing….
Here is Japanese crooner Kyu Sakamoto singing this great song. Singalong and tap your feet….
by Masako Fukui, Kei’s Kitchen