Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sukiyaki Dinner and a Movie

For a nice night at home with good entertainment and dinner, a sukiyaki theme can never fail.

The movie --- Sukiyaki Western Django
Takashi Miike. Spaghetti Western. Genji versus Heike. Quentin Tarantino. Go.

Trailer to Sukiyaki Western Django, 2007

One major item to note: Avoid the American edited version. Get the full Japanese version!

The dinner --- Sukiyaki
On Serious Eats, a blog I often visit, there was a request to post my sukiyaki recipe as a result of a discussion on shirataki. This was rather difficult, and I explained this, because I don't use any measurements when preparing this dish.

1 lb wafered lean beef (or 2 lb if you LOVE meat)
Chinese cabbage, cut into bite-sized pieces
12 oz block extra firm tofu, cut into bite-sized cubes
14 oz shirataki, rinse and drain
1 bag enoki mushrooms
7-8 young bamboo shoot tips (skinny) or a can of sliced bamboo shoots if you can’t find whole shoots
2 shiitake, rehydrated
1 Japanese leek (or scallion) – I don’t eat onions so I don’t use it
vegetable oil

raw egg
cooked medium-grain white rice

soy sauce
brown sugar

Mix soy sauce, water, and sake (1 : 2 : 1/2 ratio, respectively, is a good start) with brown sugar – adjust to taste. It shouldn’t be extremely salty or very sweet. The amount depends on the size of your deep pan that you’ll be cooking and serving this dish in. I usually make enough that it stands under an inch when poured in the pan. Set aside.

Since I don’t have a way to cook at the table, I cook the entire batch at once. If you can cook at the table, cook each ingredient in equal parts in small portions and refill ingredients as needed.

On medium heat, add some oil to the pan. Separate the thin slices of meat and cook it in the pan so they’re not stuck together. If you can buy sukiyaki meat at a Japanese grocer, it’ll come with a brick of fat that looks like a small eraser. Use that instead of the oil.

Once the meat is mostly cooked, move it to one part of the pan. Add the stock. Throw in the shiitake mushrooms.

Add the Chinese cabbage and cook for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, flip the meat around so the meat sitting above the stock is now in the stock. Move the cabbage alongside the meat.

Do not mix the ingredients together so they intermingle. Each ingredient should stand in its own quadrant.

Add the shirataki. Cook for a couple of minutes and mix it so the noodles are coated with the base. Move the noodles alongside the cabbage.

Add tofu and cook it so the tofu is evenly coated with the stock as possible. The pan will be pretty full.

Flip the meat, cabbage, and shirataki.

Add the bamboo shoots. Mix it around so it’s coated.

I usually make room in the middle and add the enoki mushroom bunch, in front of the meat, then move the two shiitake to the center with it. This is purely aesthetic.

One last time…flip the ingredients in the stock. (I’m probably being OCD at this point)

Throw the leek in and simmer for a few minutes. I don’t eat onions, so I never use leeks, but every restaurant serves it and my mother used it. It’s all yours.

Serve with white rice in a small bowl. The raw egg is cracked and beaten in a separate small bowl for personal consumption. Dip a small portion of the now pretty steaming hot medley into the cold egg and eat with rice.

Because it’s a hotpot type of dish, you can add/drop ingredients that you like/don’t like, e.g., white onions, other types of noodles, spinach, carrots. Whether it will mesh well, who knows? There are also variations on when to add the stock - beginning, middle, or end - and the use of mirin instead of sake.

Sukiyaki Western Django introduction

Slurping the bubbling sukiyaki with Kitajima Saburo singing the main theme, ahh bliss.


- Cassaendra

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