- What is Sukiyaki?
- Sukiyaki Sauce
- Popular Sukiyaki Sauce Brands
- How to cook Sukiyaki? (Beef Sukiyaki Recipe)
- What is “Sukiyaki” Song?
- What is “Sukiyaki” Western Django?
What is Sukiyaki?
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear sukiyaki, perhaps the famous love song Sukiyaki? What about the Japanese hot pot dish sukiyaki? For most Japanese, we immediately crave hot pot dishes, especially sukiyaki, on a cold winter day. Do you know the difference between sukiaki and shabu shabu? Both are hot pot dishes but very different, one is more of a sizzling pot and the other is a simmering soup. Sukiyaki is the first one and involves sautéing your ingredients in a heated cast iron pan with a soy sauce based sweet sauce, whereas with shabu shabu your ingredients are cooked in the clear soup broth lightly flavored with kombu kelp. Since the sukiyaki sauce has a lot of flavor you just eat the delicious meats and vegetables right out of the pot, but with shabu shabu you dip the your item in a seasoned dipping sauces before eating.
The history of sukiyaki goes back to the 1860’s when beef started to be imported from the U.S. Although Japanese ate fish, there was a law that they could not eat meat. This law started when Buddhism was introduced to Japan in the 7th century and continued up to the 19th century. This is based on the Buddhist philosophy of not killing animals. Although during the 19th century beef was imported from Korea and the U.S., it was just meant for western expats living in the port cities of Japan. At the end of 19th century the law against eating meat was lifted when western influence in Japan started to grow stronger. In the beginning, Japanese were not very fond of the meaty smell, so they started cooking beef in a pot with miso (soy bean curd paste) to erase the meaty aroma. As the quality of beef increased and people got used to this new dish, seasonings like soy sauce, sugar and sake were added to the beef and that is how sukiyaki was born.
Many moms in Japan love hot pot dishes because they are easy to prepare and it is a great way to make kids eat a bunch of vegetables. Another reason Japanese people love hot pots is because everyone gathers around the pot and enjoys the warm hearty meal together. The classic ingredients for sukiyaki are thinly sliced beef, carrots, nappa cabbage, leeks, shirataki noodles (yam noodles), shiitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms and tofu. You can find thinly sliced beef in any Asian or Japanese super market, but if not, ask the meat section to pre-slice it really thin. The key is to get a high quality marbled beef. If you choose lean meat it will be harder to chew. If you are not exactly sure how your sukiyaki will turn out, we recommend trying sukiyaki in a Japanese restaurant first so you will know what is supposed to be like.
Just like any other Japanese dishes, the seasoning and cooking styles differ by region. The major two styles are Kanto style and Kansai style. The difference of these two styles will be the way how they prepare the warishita (sauce). Warishita is a term used in the Japanese culinary world that technically means adding condiments to make the base for the seasoning, which is a combination of soy sauce, sugar, mirin (sweet sake), cooking sake and a dashi broth made from shiitake mushroom, kelp or dried tuna flake. Kanto is a region that includes Tokyo and its six surrounding prefectures. In the Kanto style sukiyaki, you will have your warishita (sauce) pre-mixed and bring it to a boil and then add the ingredients such as beef, tofu and vegetables. On the other hand, in Kansai region that includes Osaka and its six surrounding prefectures, you start off with grilling your meat in the pot, and as it browns you add sugar to it. After the meat is cooked, you start adding other sauces and seasonings then your ingredients. But you don’t need to worry about these different styles when you use a store bought sukiyaki sauce. Just add the sauce in your pot and cook away!
Popular Sukiyaki Sauce Brands
For those who do not have all the items needed to make sukiyaki, you can get sukiyaki sauces at your local Asian or Japanese supermarkets. If you don’t cook Japanese food too often, this could be a better way to go. On top of that, these sauces are also great for marinating meats for a barbecue, to put on steamed vegetables, or even as a condiment for French fries! Don’t be scared to experiment, use your sauce!
Kikkoman Sukiyaki Sauce
Kikkoman is the leading soy sauce company, and was founded in 1917 in Japan. With 100 years of experience in the soy sauce manufacturing business their Sukiyaki Sauce is made of naturally brewed high-quality soy sauce, mirin (sweet cooking sake) and sugar. Kikkoman sauces will be widely available in your local supermarkets.
Product Info & Photo Credit: http://www.kikkomanusa.com/homecooks/
Ebara Sukiyaki no Tare
Ebara is also a major food manufacturing company in Japan that specializes in sauces and seasonings. Over a million bottles of their Sukiyaki no Tare is bottled every day due to the high demand. Ebara is known for their tare (sauce) and when Japanese people hear Ebara they immediately think of sukiyaki sauce.
Product Info & Photo Credit: http://www.ebarafoods.com/
How to cook Sukiyaki?
Sukiyaki is a savory meal great for cold winter days. With sukiyaki broth seasoned with soy sauce and sugar, all the ingredients will be very flavorful. Cook your rice to go with the sukiyaki and get your cast iron pot ready! Just one note, when eating sukiyaki, Japanese will dip sukiyaki ingredients in raw egg to dilute the saltiness, but for those who are weary about eating raw egg, substitute the egg with rice.
Beef Sukiyaki Recipe
Let’s enjoy Sukiyaki with family and friends at home!
Ingredients (Serves 4)
- 1 lb 5 oz. sliced sukiyaki beef
- 2 grilled tofu
- 2 green onions
- 8 fresh shiitake mushrooms
- 1 pack of konnyaku noodles
- 2 bunches garland chrysanthemum
- 1 piece beef tallow (can be replaced by lard or vegetable oil)
- 4 eggs (as desired; used as a dipping sauce)
- 2/5 cup Sake (cooking sake)
- 2/5 cup Mirin (sweet cooking rice wine)
- 2/5 cup Soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- Boil the konnyaku noodles and cut them roughly. Slice green onion diagonally. Cut the grilled tofu into eight pieces and cut the shiitake mushrooms neatly. Cut the garland chrysanthemum to around 5cm. Put all the ingredients on a plate.
- Prepare the sukiyaki stock. Put the flavoring ingredients into a separate pot and cook over medium heat. Stop the fire when the sugar has melted completely.
- Heat the sukiyaki pot, melt the beet tallow and sautee the green onion. When the green onion starts to release its aroma, sautee the beef.
- Pour just enough sukiyaki stock to cover the beef, then add the other ingredients. You can start eating the ingredients as they’re cooked. Add sukiyaki stock as it depletes, and add plain stock if the sukiyaki stock boils down too much.
- For sukiyaki, slightly thicker slices of beef with a generous amount of fat are better. Dried wheat gluten is also recommended.
- Rich sauce adds to the flavors of beef.
What is “Sukiyaki” Song?
Many of you must have heard the song Sukiyaki covered by artists in the U.S. and all over the world, if not find it on iTunes. This song is originally from Japan and in Japanese the name of the song is “Ue o Muite Arukō” which means “hold your head up high”. The song was written in 1961, seven years after World War II, when there were many protests against the Security Treaty and the American military presence in Japan. Song writer Rokusuke Ei, feeling the disappointment of hundreds and thousands of the young people who marched in the protests, wrote this song to cheer them up and tell them that a bright future is behind the clouds so you need to hold your head high. When this song came to the U.S. in 1963, it landed on top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts for three weeks. After that, the now famous Sukiyaki Song was covered by an American band called Taste of Honey. They turned it into a love song with what they felt was a catchy Japanese title, and thus the U.S. version of the Sukiyaki Song was born.
What is “Sukiyaki” Western Django?
Speaking of sukiyaki recipe, here is another interesting fact. There was a Japanese movie called “Sukiyaki Western Django” directed by Takashi Miike that came out in 2007. This movie is sort of a Japanese parody of Quinten Tarantino’s Kill Bill, and includes a lot of violence. The story takes place in Japan, but is about a samurai living in a cowboy kind of town where two major clans fight each other over territory. The title “Sukiyaki Western Django” was probably named in the same way as the Sukiyaki Song, so that people will recognize the catchy word sukiyaki and immediately associate it with Japan. This movie was filmed all in English by Japanese actors. The American film maker Quentin Tarantino who is a friend of the director Miike, played a part in the film as a mysterious cowboy.