It’s always good to come home and sleep in your own bed after a long and uncomfortable trans-Atlantic flight and awakening at 4:45 a.m. to a gentle, cleansing rain made it even better It’s clear and sunny now, but when the days become chilly and damp, I often crave a warming bowl of udon or soba noodles from Ebisu Ramen, a Japanese noodle house here in Huntington Beach. During our last rainy spell I thought about one of my favorite childhood dishes: Sukiyaki (Japanese: 鋤焼 or more commonly すき焼き), a Japanese dish in the nabemono (Japanese Hot pot) style.
Similar to shabu shabu, sukiyaki consists of meat (usually thinly sliced beef) slowly cooked or simmered at the table, alongside vegetables and other ingredients, in a shallow iron pot in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, and mirin. Before being eaten, the ingredients are usually dipped in a small bowl of raw, beaten eggs.
Growing up in northwest Arkansas we raised most of our family’s food but there was nothing in the way of ethnic markets, so my mom’s Sukiyaki was an Americanized version made without many of the traditional Japanese ingredients in a cast iron pan on the stove top, but delicious and fondly remembered just the same.
Sukiyaki with Tofu & Shirataki Noodles
The Japanese are very fond of sugar and salt in their cooking and after years of eliminating as much sugar and salt from my diet as possible, I find that sukiyaki in restaurants is often too sweet for me. This recipe contains about half of the sugar that’s commonly used and much less sodium by substituting low-sodium broth for soy sauce. You can buy mirin and beef specially cut for sukiyaki at Japanese markets. All the other ingredients are available at most grocery stores.
1/2 cup sake or mirin*
3 tablespoons sugar*
1 cup water
1/2 lb. sliced sukiyaki beef (thinly sliced rib eye steak)
1 pkg shitake mushrooms
1/2 pkg broiled tofu (9 oz.), cut in half and cubed
1 small Napa cabbage, thinly sliced crosswise
3-4 green onions, sliced lengthwise into 1 inch pieces
2 -6 oz. pkgs shiratake noodles (yam noodles)*
For stovetop preparation: combine the soy sauce, mirin or sake, sugar and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in vegetables and tofu. Ladle mixture over noodles in bowls. Quickly sear beef in a skillet and add to soup or simply add to the hot broth if you prefer your beef on the rare side.
Add low sodium soy sauce at the table, if desired.
Serves 2 | Enjoy
* Mirin is sweet rice wine. Traditionally granulated sugar is used, I used organic Sucanat. Shirataki noodles have no fat and are low-sodium, gluten free, and soy free.