Saturday, January 22, 2005



Last week was a real eventful one! I had loads of fun, but also got frozen many times, going out a lot. Now I need a hot, nutritious dish to recharge myself!! No doubt about it!!

You know, to be honest, I still need some good reasons to persuade myself to go for Sukiyaki. Beef used to be very expensive in Japan when I was small. Beefsteak and Sukiyaki were the top 2 representatives of luxurious foods. How often your family eat Sukiyaki was the indicator of how wealthy your family was. No, I’m not kidding. It was something to eat on some special occasions only. Now beef isn’t too expensive and no one worships Sukiyaki like we used to do any more, but looks like I still can’t completely get rid of the old thinking pattern… ;P

Ingredients (basics only...)

What you put in Sukiyaki really depends on each family, but I guess these 4 ingredients are the must: thinly sliced beef, tofu, green onion and shirataki (noodle-like konnyaku). The big controversy (I’m not kidding. I heard about some married couples being separated because of the disagreement on the ingredients of Sukiyaki !) is hakusai (Chinese cabbage). It’s a big NO-NO for me and my family, but some people do put hakusai in Sukiyaki. Mmmmm…. In my personal opinion, hakusai, gobo (burdock) and moyashi (bean sprouts) should not be put in Sukiyaki...

Instead, my family loves to put an unusual ingredient in this tasty dish. It’s called ita-fu, which is basically thin strips of dried wheat gluten cakes. You soak them in water until soft, then boil them in Sukiyaki soup with other ingredients. The ita-fu strips absorb the soup more than anything else and get sooooooooo juicy and yummy. Mmmmmm!! My favorite! But this time I couldn’t find them at the supermarket. Sigh.

While you wait for this delicious dish to be ready, you have a work to do… you need to beat the raw egg in the serving bowl. The raw egg is an optional thing and I didn’t like it when I was a kid. But later I learned that the raw egg makes the sweet’n salty Sukiyaki soup somewhat milder and the combination is quite good. Now I never eat Sukiyaki without a raw egg.

Well, usually I use regular soy sauce, not light soy, and make all the ingredients look pretty dark-brown. Today I was almost running out of the soy sauce, so used this shiradashi (once introduced in this post) + water much more than usual. That’s why I ended up with lighter-colored Sukiyaki this time. (Everything looked browner when in the pan actually, but the color turned out much lighter in the photos.)

Anyway, good and hot Sukiyaki, accompanied by warm sake, surely warms you up on a freezing winter day.
I feel fully recharged ; )


Unknown said...

that is one luscious-looking sukiyaki...and what a beautiful serving bowl!

Fish Fish said...

Ee? Obachan, how come your sukiyaki got no soysauce color? Kekeke... dun tell me u use egg as dashi ar~ :

Reid said...

Hi Obachan,

I don't like Chinese cabbage in my sukiyaki, but I do love gobo in it! BTW...I've never eaten sukiyaki with a raw egg before. I have to try that next time! This looks so yummy! =P

obachan said...

> drstel --- Hehehe…I stole this serving bowl from my parents’ house when I was there for the new year’s holidays ;P

> fish fish --- Now you know the secret of my light-colored sukiyaki ; )

> Reid --- Thanks. The raw egg works fine when the sukiyaki sauce has a strong taste, I think.

Anonymous said...

Tell me more about what "shirataki" is. Do you use a dashi broth for the soup? Thanks - fun site I love to cook Japanese food, but can't always find the ingredients in Alaska


obachan said...

Hi Paul,
Wow, so nice to hear from someone in Alaska! Welcome to my site :D
Yes, I use dashi broth. According to some Japanese websites, people in the eastern half (Kanto) of Japan cook Sukiyaki a bit differently from those in the western half (Kansai). In Kansai (where I live), it is more common to fry beef first, sprinkling sugar and soy sauce directly on it to season, then add other ingredients (and more sugar and soy, if necessary.) If simmered down too much, add water or sake or dashi broth. In Kanto, they mix sugar, soy and mirin beforehand to make Sukiyaki soup, and after frying beef a little with no seasoning, simmer all ingredients together in the soup.

Some say that the name sukiyaki came from the way farmers cooked food for their lunch more than 100 years ago. They worked in the fields all day, didn’t have time to go home for lunch, so they built a fire and heated their suki (hoes) and grilled fish and vegetables on them. Sounds convincing to me.

Ms One Boobie said...

Hey.. Obachan.. :)
Been trying to read this post for the whole day.. but get distracted by chloe always.. so my only chance now.. :) Yer sukiyaki looks so delicious..!! when i was young.. my mom don't like eating beef.. so for the longest.. longest time.. we never have any beef.. till i was old enough.. to go eat by myself.. i used to love beef alot.. but not really now.. unless they are really good beef.. and as far as i know.. for sukiyaki.. you've gotta put good beef right..?? no..??? Anyway.. your dish look super yummy.. :) Cheers..!

Anonymous said...

It must be ideal to use good beef for Sukiyaki. In my case sometimes (often) I need to be less idealistic, you know. ; )
Soon Chloe will be old enough to read and enjoy food posts with you. That'll be fun. 

Posted by obachan

Anonymous said...

Hey.. Obachan.. ;)
I can't wait for that to happen.. i would love to enjoy alot of stuff with chloe.. especially bringing her to Dharma sushi.. in halifax.. to have sashimi.. and try.. chawan-mushi.. and omu-rice.. ;)

Posted by MrsT

Anonymous said...

Hi -- great blog.

I am a food critic coming to Osaka to find the best real secret top restaurants.

Any recommendations? 

Posted by John Krich