There are two main types of sukiyaki: Kanto (eastern) style, and Kansai (western) style. This recipe is the Kansai style, in which you cook the beef with sugar first.
Photographed by Hideo Sawai
Beans & Tofu
Ingredients (Serves 4)
- 500 g thinly sliced beef (for sukiyaki)
- 2 onions
- 2 blocks grilled tofu (600 g)
- 200 g shirataki
- 12 pieces fu
- 1 package fresh shiitake mushrooms
- 3 Japanese green onions (thick)
- Beef tallow, as desired
- Eggs, as desired
- Boiled udon noodles, as desired
- Soy sauce
Cut the onions into half-rounds 1 cm thick. Cut one block of the grilled tofu in half along its length, then cut each half into slices 2 cm thick, and place the onion and tofu on a large serving plate. Boil the shirataki and transfer to cool water, then squeeze out any excess moisture and cut into easy-to-eat pieces. Place the fu in water to rehydrate until soft, then squeeze out any excess moisture. Place the shirataki and rehydrated fu on the same plate as the onion and tofu. Remove the stems from the shiitake mushrooms and cut into slices 1 cm thick. Cut the green onion diagonally into pieces 4 cm wide, and place the shiitake mushroom and green onion slices on the serving plate as well. Cut the beef into easy-to-eat pieces and arrange on a separate plate, and prepare the beef tallow, eggs, and seasonings at the table.
When arranging the ingredients on a plate, placing solid items like the onions and grilled tofu first will help to keep the other ingredients steady and neat on the plate.
Heat a cast-iron pot. Add the beef tallow and melt to coat, then add 2-3 pieces of the thinly sliced beef, making sure they don't overlap, and sprinkle sugar on top as desired.
For sukiyaki, it's crucial to cook the beef slowly and gently! Don't touch the beef until it browns and begins to release from the surface of the pot on its own.
Continue to cook over medium heat until the beef is browned and the sugar has melted and caramelized.
Cooking some of the beef first leaves its rich flavor in the pot for the other ingredients to soak up, surprisingly enhancing the taste of the dish.
Add the ingredients that have high moisture content such as onions, grilled tofu, and shirataki to the pot in a single layer, and season to taste with sugar, soy sauce, and sake.
Season each ingredient with a small amount of sugar and soy sauce. It's easier to adjust the flavor this way, as opposed to adding the seasonings all at once. Add sake occasionally to prevent burning.
Add the remaining ingredients, continuing to season a small amount at a time as you do so.
When the ingredients in the pot have stewed, spread the remaining beef one slice at a time on top of the other ingredients, and continue to season a small amount at a time.
Rather than cooking the beef over direct heat, spreading it out on top of the other ingredients allows it to cook more slowly.
Eat the ingredients that have cooked through, dipping in beaten egg. As you go through the contents of the pot, continue to add more ingredients, seasoning a small amount at a time and spreading the slices of beef on top.
Bear in mind that as you repeat this process, the flavor will progressively become more concentrated, so make sure to adjust the amount of seasonings you use.