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Like Chinese hot pot or Korean jeongol, Japanese sukiyaki is a communal cold weather favorite.

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What Is Sukiyaki?

Sukiyaki is one of a group of Japanese hot pot dishes known as nabemono, or nabe. The ingredients for sukiyaki are slow-simmered in a dashi broth with soy sauce, mirin, and sake (which makes warishita or sukiyaki sauce) in a cast iron pot. This is different from other nabe like shabu shabu, in which raw ingredients are cooked simply in a boiling pot of dashi broth before being dunked in a seasoning sauce.

To avoid using personal chopsticks when sharing sukiyaki, each person uses extra-long serving chopsticks called tori-bashi to remove items from the communal pan and place them in their own personal bowl. As the group eats, the pan is continually replenished with more sauce or raw ingredients.

What Is the Difference Between Kanto and Kansai Style Sukiyaki?

There are two styles of sukiyaki: Kanto-style (served in Eastern Japan), and Kansai-style (served in Western Japan):

  • Kanto-style: In Kanto-style sukiyaki, the warishita is heated to a simmer and, once hot, the meat and vegetables are added and cooked.
  • Kansai-style: In Kansai-style sukiyaki, an initial portion of meat is seared and seasoned with brown sugar in the heated pot. The warishita is then added to the pot, along with a second portion of beef and the remaining ingredients.
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What Are Common Ingredients in Sukiyaki?

The star of most sukiyaki is the beef, which is sold pre-sliced specifically for sukiyaki (or shabu shabu) in many Japanese grocery stores. Marbled cuts like Wagyu or Kobe beef—which are melt-in-your-mouth cuts—are not uncommon.

Sukiyaki can also be made with chicken, fish, or be entirely vegetarian. Other popular ingredients for sukiyaki may include:

  • Enoki mushrooms
  • Shiitake mushrooms
  • Chrysanthemum leaves (shungiku)
  • Scallions
  • Japanese leeks (negi)
  • Baby bok choy
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Grilled tofu
  • Shirataki noodles (konnyaku yam noodles with a gelatinous, sticky consistency)
  • Udon noodles
  • Mochi cakes

Homemade Kanto-Style Sukiyaki Recipe

Makes
1 large pot
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Cook Time
10 min

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound sirloin, sliced thin
  • 5 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 5 tablespoons sake
  • 5 tablespoons mirin
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ head napa cabbage roughly chopped into large, bite-sized pieces
  • 1 bunch scallions, halved crosswise and root end discarded
  • 1 bunch enoki mushrooms, with the roots trimmed
  • 1 block firm tofu, cut into small blocks
  • 2 cups dashi stock
  • 1 10 ounce package udon noodles
  1. Heat oil in a sukiyaki pan—a cast iron skillet or frying pan will do—over medium heat on a stove or portable tabletop burner.
  2. Whisk the soy sauce, sake, mirin, and sugar together to make the warishita.
  3. Sear one layer of beef in the pan. When the meat has begun to brown, add ⅓ of the warishita.
  4. Serve the first round of meat and repeat, adding vegetables to the sauce along with the second round of beef. Add a little dashi stock so the ingredients are halfway underneath the broth. Cover the pot, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and simmer until the ingredients are cooked.
  5. Add more warishita or dashi as needed, adjusting the seasoning with each new addition of ingredients. Add the udon noodles last to soak up all the remaining sauce.

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