Sukiyaki

sukiyaki8Sukiyaki is a famous Japanese dish. It is in the category of nabemono, dishes that are often cooked and eaten communally at the table. Sukiyaki is made with beef and a sweet soy sauce base. It’s especially good in the winter. The beef and other ingredients are often dipped into beaten raw egg before eating. It may sound strange to Americans, but try it once before you decide! In Japan, eggs are very safe and often eaten raw or half-cooked.

Ingredients
80mL (1/3 cup) soy sauce
3 tbsp sake
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

thinly sliced beef
shirataki noodles
negi (long green onion) or leek, sliced diagonally
yakidofu (grilled tofu) or firm tofu
greens (in Japan, I like mizuna, shungiku, or komatsuna; in America you can also use napa cabbage, spinach, etc.)
mushrooms (shiitake, enokitake)
udon noodles

eggs (optional)

Instructions

Mix the soy sauce, sake, sugar, and water together. (Note: In Japan you can also buy pre-made sukiyaki sauce.)

Heat a frying pan on a stove-top burner. Add a little oil, and add some sliced beef. Let brown, and then add some sukiyaki sauce. Next, add a little of each ingredient, cover, and let cook until the ingredients are done.

If you want to eat the sukiyaki with egg, each person can take one egg and crack it into their bowl. Then, each person can take what they like from the pan and place it into their bowl.

This cycle can be repeated until the ingredients are gone. Finally, you can add udon (thick wheat noodles) to end.

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Mapo Dofu

Mapo Dofu is originally a Chinese (Szechuan?) dish, which is also commonly found in Japan. My version is based on the Japanese ones, which is much less spicy and less oily than the original. This dish is very easy and inexpensive, because it uses a little meat for flavor, and tofu to make up the majority of the dish.

Some of these ingredients might be unfamiliar: doubanjiang is a kind of spicy bean paste, and tianmianjiang is a sweet bean sauce. Nira is a vegetable (maybe garlic chives in English) that looks similar to green onions, but the leaves are flat.

Ingredients
1 tbsp sesame oil
100g (3.5 oz) ground pork
1/2 tbsp grated ginger
1/2 tbsp minced or grated garlic
1/2 tbsp doubanjiang (豆板醤 / トウバンジャン)
1 tbsp tianmianjiang (甜麺醤 / テンメンジャン)
2 tbsp sake, divided
1 tbsp soy sauce
150 mL / ~3/4 cup chicken broth
6 stalks nira
2 tsp cornstarch + a little water
1 block firm tofu (木綿)

Rice for serving

Instructions

Wrap the block of tofu in paper towels, place something flat (like a plate) on top, and let it sit for about 20 minutes to remove excess water.

Meanwhile, heat a frying pan over medium heat and add the sesame oil, ground pork, ginger, and garlic. Cook until the pork is no longer pink. Move the pork over to one side, and add the doubanjiang and tianmianjiang sauces on the other side of the pan. Mix them together and fry for a few seconds before mixing them with the pork. Stir until everything is combined.

Add 1 tbsp of sake and mix with the pork. Cook for a minute or two to let the alcohol evaporate. Add the chicken broth, soy sauce, and remaining 1 tbsp of sake.

Cut the tofu into bite-size squares, and cut the nira into about 3cm (1 inch) pieces. Add both to the frying pan and mix gently (be careful not to break the tofu pieces). Let cook for a few minutes, then add the cornstarch mixed with a little water. Let the sauce thicken, and then turn off the heat.

I like to serve this on top of freshly cooked rice, or you can serve it alongside.