Wife Jan and I were wandering around the local Japanese market and she said it had been a long time since I had made sukiyaki. This is one of the dishes my mother, Claudia, would make as I was growing up. Since I was making this as a weekday dinner, I pared down my original recipe to feed three people—you may also increase the number and kinds of vegetables to feed more if necessary.
Note: Oops! We was hungry and I forgot to take a photo before the hoards descended.
Jan is on the Noom program and “red foods”—like sugar are to be severely limited. My original recipe had a fair amount of sugar in it—between the mirin and the orange sugar—so what could I substitute and still have the distinctive flavor of the sukiyaki broth. In my recent recipes, I have been using agave syrup, but for this dish I decided to try out monkfruit syrup. This Asian fruit provides sweetness, but has a distinctly odd—but not unpleasant—umami flavor. I personally would not use it to sweeten my tea, but the strong flavor of the soy sauces should mask any unusual taste. On the plus side, it has no calories and a glycemic index value of zero.
Traditionally, this is a fairly dry dish. The meat seared in a pot at the table, vegetables are added and cooked briefly, and then a little sauce is added. After the diners have eaten the first round, the process is repeated with more meat, vegetables and sauce. The modern version of sukiyaki—served at most American Japanese restaurants and as served by my mother—is more of a soup with the ingredients arraigned in artistic bunches around the pot.
A large electric hot pot—to cook and keep the soup warm at the table—is almost a necessity for this dish. Sukiyaki is similar to shabu-shabu, as they are both nabemono—Japanese hot pots. The main difference between them is in when the ingredients go in the pot. For sukiyaki most of the ingredients are put in the pot to cook together, while with shabu-shabu the diners select individual pieces of the raw ingredients to cook in the hot soup.
There are few limits to the ingredients you may add to sukiyaki, but the standard basics are: beef, tofu, negi (a large green onion), leafy greens (like napa cabage and chrysanthemum greens), mushrooms, and shirataki. For the sauce, it is important that you use a Japanese soy sauce, because it is less salty than the Chinese product.
The arrangement of your ingredients should be visually appealing. You should alternate dark and light, green and white to make pretty picture. Separating the thick white pieces and green leafy parts of the onions and bok choi gives you two contrasting vegetables with which to work.
Note: You may make this a pesco-vegetarian dish by leaving out the beef and replacing the beef broth with dashi. In the final preparation, place tofu in the central spot.
After Dinner Note: The monkfruit made a fine substitute in this dish. The flavor was indistinguishable from the original—if not better.
Karl’s Weekday Sukiyaki with a Noom Twist
1 pound thinly sliced beef rib eye
2 Tbs. Japanese soy sauce
2 Tbs. dark soy sauce
2 Tbs. saki
1 Tbs. fresh ginger, grated
8 drops monkfruit syrup
1 tsp. vegetable oil
¼ cup Japanese soy sauce
¼ cup saki
2 Tbs. dark soy sauce
16 drops monkfruit syrup
6-7 slices fresh ginger
1 tsp. HonDashi (dried Bonita fish stock)
1 can (14.5 oz.) beef broth, low sodium
1-2 Shanghai bok choy
1 cup sugar snap peas
4 large green onions
½ small yellow onion<
11 oz. yam noodles (shirataki)
1 pkg. enoki mushrooms
Optional vegetable additions
Note: Like many Asian dishes, it is important that you prepare all of the ingredients before you start cooking.
1. Put the rib eye in the freezer for 30 minutes. When meat is firm (but not frozen solid) remove and slice thin at a steep angle across the grain.
Note: I have a Japanese market within only a few miles. I was able to buy precut “beef for sukiyaki.
2. Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl and gently toss the beef to coat.
Tip: You do not want to mash the beef too much—you should have large pieces not shreds.
Note: In my old recipe, I simply sprinkled some sugar on the meat before browning, but that is not possible to do this time.
3. Mix soy sauces, saki, monkfruit, ginger, and HonDashi in a bowl and set it aside.
Note: It is not necessary to add the can of broth yet.
4. Remove most the leaves from the bok choy and cut the green leaves from the fleshy pale green stalk, keep separate.
Tip: Cut the stalks into 1 ½ inch pieces and the green leaves into one inch wide strips.
5. Slice the remaining center of the bok choy in half or thirds, vertically and place these with the white parts of the bok choy.
6. Rinse the sugar snap peas and remove the tough string at the back of the pod.
Tip: Pinch the stem and pull down the toward the back of the pod.
Note: Leave the pea pods whole.
7. Cut the green onions into 2-inch lengths and keep the white and green parts separate.
8. Cut the yellow onion into 1 inch chunks and separate the leaves.
9. Trim the enoki and separate them into small bunches.
Note: Enoki mushrooms are sold in solid, stuck together bunches with their roots—which are covered in their growing mulch—still attached. Cut away the lower third of the bunch to remove the dirty roots.
10. Drain and rinse the shirataki in a large sieve.
Tip: Use scissors to break up the long noodles.
11. Put a teaspoon of oil in the pot and sear the beef strips, in batches, on one side and then transfer the meat to a separate plate.
Tip: You want the meat browned, but not overcooked. If there is still some red meat showing it is OK. You want some of the flavor that the Maillard reaction provides, but you do not want tough, chewy pieces of beef.
Note: Normally, I make this dish in an electric pot at the table, but today—since I was not making as big of a soup—I did it in a large wide pan on the stove.
12. Deglaze the pot with the sauce mixture and simmer the sauce for one minute.
13. Add the beef broth and remove the pot from the heat.
Tip: Removing most of the broth to a bowl at this point makes it easier to arrange your ingredients—without them floating around the pan.
14. Arrange whatever raw ingredients you are using in an attractive pattern with the beef in the center.
Tip: Start by placing the firmer ingredients around the pot. Wedge the other ingredients in between in an alternating color and texture pattern. The goal is to have some of each ingredient rising above the surface.
15. Return the broth to the pot, bring the pot to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to a simmer.
Tip: If using an electric pot, transfer the pot with the vegetables to the base set in the center of the table and turn on its heating element. Heat the broth on the stove and pour the hot soup over the vegetables. Set the temperature of the electric pot to low and put on the lid.
Note: Your diners should be seated at the table at this point.
16. Simmer the sukiyaki for 4-5 minutes and serve.
Tip: This being a home weekday meal my diners served themselves directly from the pot on the stove.
Note: Utensils for this meal should be chopsticks, an Asian spoon, and a small bowl of rice. Alternatively you may put the rice in your soup bowl and spoon the broth, meat and vegetables over the rice. It is common practice in Asia for each person to use their own chopsticks to pick bits out of the common pot. If you are at all squeamish about this, you may provide serving chopsticks or a serving spoon for your diners.