March 12, 2015

Sukiyaki Hot Pot

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If you are looking for a shirataki signature dish, this hot pot is the one. Sukiyaki has something for everyone: caramelized beef, tofu, noodles, leafy greens, mushrooms and more, artfully arranged in a savoury sauce. In Japan, eating Sukiyaki is a ritual. It is consumed family-style, straight from the pot. It may be prepared right at the table, with more ingredients and dashi stock tossed in as the meal progresses. Tidbits are dipped in a side bowl of raw egg, perhaps mixed with soy sauce. (Like me, you may prefer to omit that step or switch to a poached egg.) Once everything is consumed, cooked udon or soba noodles may be added to mop up the delicious pan juices. The great Sukiyaki divide: In west Japan, the meat is simmered in sauce and perhaps stock. In east Japan, the meat is seared in the pan, then other ingredients are added. My recipe is eastern-style Sukiyaki, which is more popular. There are 255 calories per serving.

1/4 cup (60 mL) each: sake, soy sauce, mirin
1 tbsp (15 mL) brown sugar
8 oz (250 g) white shirataki spaghetti noodles, rinsed
1 tbsp (15 mL) canola or peanut oil
1 tsp (5 mL) brown sugar
8 oz (250 g) sirloin, thinly sliced across grain
8 oz (250 g) firm tofu, pressed, seared or broiled, cut in 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes
4 oz (125 g) chrysanthemum greens, blanched, coarsely chopped
4 oz (125 g) napa cabbage, thinly sliced
2 oz (60 g) enoki mushrooms
4 large shiitakes, stemmed, flower-cut if desired
2 large green onions (white + green parts), cut in 1-inch (2.5 cm) segments on diagonal
1 carrot, flower-cut or thinly sliced on diagonal

Sauce: In small measuring cup, stir together ingredients.

Sukiyaki: Add shirataki to small pan of boiling, salted water. When water returns to boil, cook 1 minute. Drain. Line baking sheet with paper towels. Spread out shirataki to air-dry. Cut strands into manageable lengths.

Heat 12-inch (30 cm) cast iron skillet on medium-high 5 minutes. Add oil and swirl to coat pan. Using tongs, add beef and spread out across pan. Sprinkle with sugar. Cook, tossing and turning often, 2 minutes, or until no longer pink. Add 2 tbsp (30 mL) sauce and toss. Cook, turning often, 1 to 2 minutes, until browned in patches. Remove from heat.

Push beef to side of skillet. Add tofu, greens, noodles, napa, enokis, shiitakes, and onions so they occupy separate sections of skillet. Scatter carrot over noodles or enokis. Pour 2 tbsp (30 mL) remaining sauce over noodles. Pour remaining sauce over vegetables. Return to medium-high heat. When sauce comes to boil, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 5 minutes, or until noodles are hot and vegetables are tender-crisp.

Makes 4 servings.

  • The shirataki for this recipe are measured drained. Water amounts vary by package. About 10% to 20% may be water weight.
  • Japanese cast iron Sukiyaki pots are wide and shallow. A cast iron skillet is a good stand-in because you have to get the pan very hot.
  • Mirin is sweetened rice cooking wine; some supermarkets sell it.
  • I used spaghetti-shaped shirataki for this dish, but any kind will work.
  • Japanese cooks believe the calcium in the shirataki toughens the meat, so traditionally, they are never placed next to each other.
  • Use marbled, thinly sliced meat. It’s easiest to slice when partially frozen. Also, you can purchase pre-sliced beef in Japanese or Korean supermarkets. Beef tends to get leathery in Sukiyaki, so the Japanese use very fatty meat. Sirloin works for me, as long as it is not cooked too long.
  • To press tofu: Pat it dry. Place it on a plate lined with paper towels. Cover with paper towels and another plate. Place a weight (such as a can) on top. Set aside 30 to 60 minutes.
  • You can buy broiled tofu, called yakitofu. However, it’s easier to find plain tofu and either sear it or broil it. To sear: Pat-dry tofu and cook it in a very hot cast iron pan with 1 tsp (5 mL) oil, turning once, 2 minutes, or until golden. To broil: On a baking sheet, broil tofu until the top is golden-brown, then flip and repeat.
  • Chyrsanthemum greens (known as shungiku in Japan) are the traditional choice for this dish. To combat bitterness, blanch them before using: Trim tough stalk ends, toss whole stalks into boiling, salted water for 30 to 60 seconds, drain, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking, drain well and chop coarsely.
  • When I can’t get chrysanthemum greens, I substitute komatsuna (tender mustard greens), yu choy sum or even shanghai bok choy.
  • To flower-cut shiitakes: Cut crosswise three times across the head (like spokes), then at an angle to expose the white part of the head.
  • The Japanese use a negi (a.k.a. Welsh onion) in Sukiyaki. It looks like a scallion on steroids. I substitute the stem of a spring onion (which looks like a giant green onion with a bulb) or use large green onions.
  • To make a simple carrot flower: Cut off the thin tapered end of the carrot. (Set it aside for other uses.) Peel the carrot. Cut 5 lengthwise divots at an angle. (Or gouge with vegetable decorating tool.) Scrape along cuts with a bamboo or metal skewer to make them even and tidy. Rinse carrot. Cut crosswise into 1/8 inch (0.5 cm) slices.

Credit: Susan Sampson
Tested in Imperial