Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sukiyaki with the Sumidas

One of the most beloved and popular recipes that many Japanese American families pass down from one generation to the next, is their families' sukiyaki recipes. You might have heard of sukiyaki from the popular song that was a #1 hit in 1963. The song actually isn't about sukiyaki, which is a delicious comfort meal--the song is about a heartbroken lover who walks down the street and refuses to look down because he is afraid that his tears will spill down his cheeks. Totally off topic, but in case you were wondering...

Anyways, fall marks the beginning of "Matsutake" mushroom hunting season. These mushrooms are another Japanese favorite, and you can find hordes of seniors going up into secret spots within the mountains to find these mushrooms that go for upwards of $100/lb in Japan. They grow naturally and abundantly in Washington because of our climate and in years past, there has been such a large crop that people were shipping garbage bags full of mushrooms to friends across the country and in Japan! Their earthy and distinct taste go well with many dishes, but Kyle and my favorite is in sukiyaki!

Matsutake mushrooms

Sukiyaki is a very healthy meal. It is cooked in a large skillet, usually on a portable gas burner that we put in the middle of the dinner table and add and take ingredients as we go along in our meal. Ingredients include tofu, clear noodles, onions, napa cabbage, bamboo shoots (I personally don't like them, but most do), celery and other yummy and fresh vegetables.

A very important part of the meal is thinly sliced lean beef--you can get this particular cut at Uwajimaya or other Asian stores. This meat has a low fat content and is also very delicate and tender.

You want to coat the bottom of your pan with a light oil like vegetable oil. Then add in the meat to give the bottom flavor. My mom likes to cut off chunks of beef fat and use that as a base for the dish in addition to the oil (this makes it a little less healthy!). Then you add in all the veggies, noodles and tofu and coat with a liberal amount of soy sauce, mirin and sugar. Everything will cook together and the veggies will lose some of their water in order to create a nice broth that the food boils in.

Serve it with some rice and you have a great meal for the cold and gloomy fall days we are in!

Happy Eating,



  1. mmmmmmm! this sounds delish! Do you think I could make it?

  2. yes, you could make it! Here is a recipe you can use (it is Ali's family's recipe):

    1½ lbs thinly sliced beef sukiyaki meat

    2 bunches of green onion sliced into 2 inch pieces

    1 block of traditional or firm tofu rinsed and sliced into 2 inch pieces

    1-2 bags of shirataki (clear noodles)Rinse in hot boiling water. (don’t place these noodles in the pan next to the meat as it will toughen the meat)

    Matsutake or shiitake mushrooms

    Other veggies that sounds good to you like sweet onions, celery, napa cabbage, etc.


    1 Cup dashi (get this at an Asian market like Uwajimaya)

    ½ Cup soy sauce

    ½ Cup mirin (sweet rice wine vinegar)

    3 Tablespoons sugar

    Mix the sauce together and put in a large skillet and cook on high.

    Once it starts to boil, add the meat, green onions, mushrooms, noodles and tofu.

    Cook until meat is done.