Monday, December 5, 2016

Lea's Sukiyaki

I spent my early years living in Japan and I still have a great love of Japanese food. One of the dishes I love most is Sukiyaki, which is a kind of Japanese hotpot. My Mom learned how to make this from our cook.  Once we were back in America, we used to eat this regularly as a family and we cooked it using an electric skillet in the middle of the table. We all cooked our own meat and served ourselves as much as we wanted. These days, I don't have an electric skillet and I don't really know why. So, I cook it on the stove in my wok and serve it on the table directly in that. I'm thinking now I should ask my kids to buy me an electric skillet for Christmas, so maybe next time I cook it, we can all cook our own ingredients the old fashioned way. 

Today, I'm going to give you my Mother's recipe for Sukiyaki and it's one of my all time favorites too. Most of the time at restaurants, I find the Sukiyaki to be too sweet. In this recipe, the basic flavoring comes from Caramelized Onion, Tamari and Mirin. My Mom always said that it was important to cook some of the beef first to make the sauce taste right.  I add in diluted Beef Broth although she used to use Chicken Broth to make a sauce that's more like having a little soup in your bowl that's completely slurpable. It's also great over Steamed Rice. I like to use Shirataki Noodles, which are made out of a kind of Japanese Yam. They are slippery and crunchy and are often advertised as having no calories so have become popular and are much easier to find now. But, if I can't find them, I use Bean Thread Noodles instead. I also use Napa Cabbage and sometimes Baby Bok Choy as I like the dark green color of the leaves, a carton of Soft Tofu and some Enoki Mushrooms and sometimes Shitake Mushrooms too. It's quite common to see eggs cooked in the hot broth too.  

It doesn't take long to make Sukiyaki and it feeds a lot of people. It stretches one pound of thinly sliced Beef a long way and there's additional protein with the Tofu. If you want to serve it as a hotpot, create a tray of ingredients and make the basic sauce first, bring it to a boil in your electric skillet and let people swish and dunk their beef and add their vegetables, tofu and noodles simmer away until they are tender. Serve with ladles for each person.

Lea's Sukiyaki

1 pound thinly sliced Flank Steak (partially freeze first to cut slices thinner)
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 large Onion, thinly sliced
1 1lb package of Soft Tofu, drained and cut into 1 inch squares 
4 cups diluted Beef or Chicken Broth (1/2 Canned Broth and 1/2 Water unless using homemade Broth)
1/4 cup Tamari
1/4 cup Mirin (Japanese Sweet Rice Wine)
4 cups of Napa Cabbage pieces
2 cups of Baby Bok Choy, ends cut off and cut into small pieces
8 - 10 dried Shitake Mushroom, soaked in Hot Water to soften and sliced
A Handful of fresh Enoki Mushrooms, rinsed and ends cut
2 packages of Shirataki Noodles drained or 6 ounces dried Bean Thread Noodles (3 small bundles) soaked in hot water to soften
3 - 4 Green Onions, ends trimmed and cut into small pieces

Optional:  If desired, crack 4 eggs into bowls and gently add them to the simmering Sukiyaki and let cook for 3 - 4 minutes before serving.

As a hotpot: In a large, deep frying pan or wok, heat 2 Tablespoons of Oil until hot. Add in the Onions and cook, stirring frequently until they are just beginning to brown.  Add in 1/4 of the Beef and stir until it is no longer pink. Add in the Broth, Tamari and Mirin and some of each of the vegetables and tofu and bring to a boil. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more Tamari if you want it saltier or more Mirin if you want it sweeter. Then you can have everyone add in what they like to cook in the broth.  

If serving already cooked:  In a large, deep frying pan or wok, heat 2 Tablespoons of Oil until hot. Add in the Onions and cook, stirring frequently until they are just beginning to brown.  Add in all of the Beef, Bok Choy and Napa Cabbage and stir until the Beef is no longer pink. Add in the Broth and seasonings, add in the Mushrooms, Tofu and Noodles and bring to a boil. Taste and adjust seasonings. Cook for 15 minutes on Simmer. Sprinkle with Green Onions and serve with Steamed White Rice.  

Five Element Analysis

With this many ingredients in this dish, you can be pretty sure that a lot of the Elements are covered. To start with, Beef belongs to the Earth Element and the Mushrooms add even more, so that's the main Element of this dish. However, the Tofu, Onions, Green Onions and Rice also bring in a lot of the Metal Element. The Tamari, Shitakes and Eggs bring in the Water Element, whereas, the Napa Cabbage and Baby Bok Choy make sure that the Wood Element is present. Only the Fire Element is left and that is represented by the Mirin. So, that's the weakest element, so be sure to serve this dish with Tea or some Hot Chili Sauce to make a balanced Five Element meal.   

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