“We have guests for dinner tonight. “I will cook Sukiyaki”, my mom excitedly said. My late mom, Lulu Reyes Besa, loved to entertain. She always used it as an excuse to bring out the fine china, special silver and the best dishes. And the Japanese classic soup meal Sukiyaki was one of her finest dishes.
Mom learned the recipe from friends. And while she deftly sliced thin sirloin strips, she gave out instructions to me in Spanish. I grew up in the Philippines, in a household that spoke English, Spanish, Pilipino and Pampango, our provincial dialect.
Sukiyaki is one of the most exquisite Japanese dishes.Why did Mom always make this for dinner guests? In Asian countries like the Philippines, beef is an expensive item. Serving beef to guests was like giving them the royal treatment. Also, the Sukiyaki did not need a large quantity of beef cuts. You could lay out the strips in a pretty manner, and extend the dish with different vegetables and good soup stock.
Mom always cooked Sukiyaki tableside, while dinner guests watched. She said it made a grand presentation. She flavored the pre-greased electric skillet with the beef slices pre-marinated in sugar and Japanese soy sauce. Then she pushed the beef aside within the pan. Expertly, she arranged the ingredients around as though fixing a floral arrangement…with artistic flair. First the firm tofu, next carrot slices, crisp cabbage, shitake mushrooms, snap peas, and last the pre-soaked cellophane noodles. While the skillet warmed up, mom slowly poured the prepared broth of soy sauce, and a little sugar. I remember watching her add the broth delicately, as though she was watering a pretty bonsai garden.
As the simmering Sukiyaki cooked in its broth, we savored the aromas coming from the tableside cooking. Our senses were captured by the whiff of soy-flavored beef slices in a sweet broth, together with the aromatic blend of the scallions on vegetables,noodles and mushrooms. It was rich, hearty and so beautiful to behold.
Now that I live in America, and Mom has long gone, I cook Sukiyaki, Mom’s version. Compared to long ago, beef is affordable and easy to find here . I can buy the best “Sukiyaki” beef slices from a nearby Japanese grocery. Or I can always ask the butcher at my neighborhood supermarket, to slice the sirloin very thinly. I don’t have to wait for Mother’s Day to cook this. I make this for my family any day we are gathered together. It’s a beautiful celebration of the life my mom, Lulu Reyes Besa lived and the culinary heritage she left for my sister and me.
Sukiyaki- Japanese Beef and Vegetables Hot Pot
- 1 pound sliced thin in 2-inch long strips beef sirloin, tenderloin or skirt steak
- 4 Tablespoons divided, 1 Tablespoon for marinade, rest for hot pot Japanese soy sauce (Kikoman)
- 3 Tablespoons divided, 1 Tablespoon for marinade, rest for hot pot granulated sugar
- 2 to 3 cups organic beef broth
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil vegetable oil or vegetable spray
- 1 pack 1 lb.,16 oz, 453 g. extra firm, cut in 1-inch cubes, discard liquid tofu
- 1 large peeled, sliced carrot
- 1 medium sliced white onion
- 4 stalks sliced in 2-inch long strips, trim roots scallions or green onions
- 1 cup edges trimmed sugar snap peas
- 2 cups shredded bok choy or Napa cabbage
- 1 cup pre-soaked for 10 minutes before adding to hot pot cellophane noodles
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup mirin Japanese sweet rice wine, from Asian markets
- 1 cup pre-soaked in water to soften; or use enoki or button mushrooms fresh shitake mushrooms
- 4 pieces to add to individual soup bowls, optional eggs
- for serving about 1 cup per person boiled jasmine white rice (or brown rice)
- Pre-marinate the beef slices in a tablespoon each of soy sauce and sugar. Set aside.
- Prepare the beef broth, mirin, sugar and soy sauce, salt and pepper by mixing well. Put this aside for later use.
- In a large 12-inch skillet, over medium heat, spray vegetable oil (or add a tablespoon of vegetable oil). Place the beef slices and slide around the pan to flavor the entire skillet. Do this for a minute or two, and push the beef slices to one side. Let the beef slices continue cooking for about 8 minutes.
- Arrange neatly around the pan the different vegetables, tofu and the noodles. Place the vegetables in separate compartments, and make sure they are all nestled next to one another in an orderly manner. Add the pre-soaked transparent noodles last.
- Slowly pour the beef broth mixture all over the ingredients in the skillet, till it covers everything. Do not drown the ingredients. Allow them to peek out from the broth.
- Simmer over medium heat for a 5 to 6 minutes till beef and vegetables are cooked.
- Garnish with scallions. Serve with boiled jasmine rice.
- COOK'S COMMENTS: Mom used to cook this hot pot in an electric skillet table side, while guests and family watched. Sukiyaki is best served in individual soup bowls. Sometimes, upon serving the hot, steaming soup, you can place a whole egg on the mix as an optional treat. The egg cooks in the piping-hot soup concoction and makes for a great all-in-one meal. This is a traditional way of serving this Japanese hot pot.
- INGREDIENT INFORMATION: Cellophane noodles are made of mung bean starch, are translucent and are smooth and slippery when cooked. They are also called mung bean threads or glass noodles. These are sold as dried noodles in packaged bundles of 1 to 2 oz. each at Asian markets or online sources like Amazon or Asian online groceries.
- Ingredient substitute: You can use fresh shitake, enoki or button mushrooms for this recipe.
- Hello, Friends! All the images and content on this blog are COPYRIGHT PROTECTED and owned by my media company Besa-Quirino LLC. This means BY LAW you are NOT allowed to copy, scrape, lift, frame, plagiarize or use my photos and recipe content I wrote, on your website without my permission. If you want to republish this recipe or content on another website or news article, please ASK my permission, re-write it in your own words and simply link back to this blog to give proper attribution. It’s the legal thing to do. Thank you. Email me at [email protected]