Obachan’s Sukiyaki

IMG_0454Now this is a treat, people.  Miss Fats is sharing a serious secret with you today.  She’s going to give you the run down on Obachan’s famous sukiyaki.  This is easily Miss Fats’ most requested meal by her oldest friends who have had the delight of sitting down with Obachan over a steaming, giant pan of her magical sukiyaki.  They’ll testify to the pleasure party of this dining experience.

For those of you who might not be familiar with sukiyaki, it’s a communal pot of goodness featuring an array of ingredients cooked in a salty sweet broth and consumed with japanese sticky rice.  Though the picture above may look like shitty food porn, it’s actually a tasty combination of items from which you can pick and choose (but lets get real: you just grab some of everything).  The communal pot (how Obachan always serves it up), allows people to choose anything from meat to vegis and makes this dish infinitely adaptable to whatever you have on hand.  The key is really the cooking process and the broth itself.  This no fuss family style meal is also perfect for a little dinner party or larger groups of people (permitting you have a big enough pan.  You should see Obachan’s: it’s bigger than her. No seriously.)

IMG_0434Miss Fats will say that this dish requires a bit of hunting for ingredients.  However that’s really only if you want to stick with the recipe exactly.  The sukiyaki meat in particular can prove challenging.  This super thin sliced beef is the perfect tender cut for the quick cooking and communal pot.  She recommends aiming for a cut of beef that resembles  Philly Cheese Steak meat. The other challenge is the shiraki, or japanese yam noodles.  However thanks to the low carb fad, many grocery stores actually carry them in the guise of some bullshit “magic” noodle name.  These can typically be found near the tofu at gourmet grocery stores (they will be vastly marked up, so if you do have an Asian grocery store nearby, Miss Fats recommends heading there first).

IMG_0422The yummy broth base may require some hunting, but once you have them on hand, you can make this dish whenever you want.  The trickiest item would be the mirin, a sweet japanese cooking wine that is key.  Miss Fats has seen this at many grocery stores in the Asian foods aisle, but again, it will be overpriced.  She highly recommends a trip to the Asian Grocery store to pick up the shiraki, meat, mirin, and sake.  Over-buy and hoard.  The meat freezes well.

IMG_0436So Miss Fats is going to give you the run down on this process featuring the standard ingredients to be found in Obachan’s pot.  However she also highly recommends the addition of cabbage, green beans, broccoli and water chestnuts (not all at once unless you have some sort of crazy monster pot).  In order to make this happen you need a pot at least 3-4 inches deep that had a lid and the wider the better.  Miss Fats has never tried this in a stock pot, but she doesn’t see why it wouldn’t work.  Lastly, feel free to alter the amounts of any of these ingredients: if you dig on those noodles, fill half your pan (Miss Fats’ fantasy sukiyaki).  For you meat lovers out there, you can also cook as much meat as you want, and simple reserve the excess in the bowl that you keep off to the side. (Obachan always does this for the boys.)

Obachan’s Sukiyaki:
6-8 servings
serve with white rice

1 1/2 lbs of sukiyaki beef, or thin cut
1 onion, thick sliced
1 8 oz package of shiraki noodles (or yam noodles)
1/2 package of tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 bunch or 5-6 green onions, roughly chopped including most of the green
1 small can of bamboo shoots
4-5 eggs (or however many people you have)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup cooking sake
2-3 tbs mirin (to taste)
3 tbs sugar (to taste)
water
1 tbs or so of oil

IMG_04391. Heat oil in pan over medium high heat.  Add the beef, breaking it up and cooking until just brown (this should only take a couple of minutes.  Reduce the head to medium low, add the soy sauce, sake, sugar and mirin.  Stir and taste the broth.  Add more of any of the ingredients to taste.  You are aiming for a nice balance between sweet and savory.  The broth should be really concentrated at this point: do not worry.  The water added at the end will dilute it.

2. Section off the beat into a pie-piece like mound (see above).  Following this arrangement, add the onions, tofu, shiraki, and bamboo shoots, doing your best to keep them relatively contained to individual sections.  Leave a little space for the green onions (or any other quicker-cooking vegis you want to add).  Pour enough water into the pot so it almost covers all the ingredients.  Cover, turn the heat up to high, and cook for about 8-10 minutes. Keep an eye on it.

3. Once you see the onions start to turn translucent, add the green onions and eggs.  For the eggs, use chopsticks or any cooking utensil, to create little pockets and break them into the space.  Cover and cook until your eggs are to your liking and the onions are soft.

IMG_0449See: not so hard.  To serve this up, Miss Fats recommends just throwing down a hot pad onto the table and plunk this sucker down.  (Obachan’s is so large and heavy, she always requires help with the carry to the table.)  All you need to do is lay down a little white rice and go to town on this thing.  Make sure you’ve got a big ‘ol spoon to scoop up broth too.

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This meal comes with a warning, however.  No matter how hard you try, this dish will never be as good as Obachan’s.  Believe her: Miss Fats has been expertly taught how to execute this dish by the master herself and still cannot manage to create the perfect pot of sukiyaki.  But for those of you who haven’t or never will have the pleasure of dining with the master herself, Miss Fats warns you that this dish will make you pretty popular among your friends.  This messy pot of japanese food love can easily become a staple of friendertaining/ annoying cooking requests.

Miss Fats encourages you all to get out and try to create this delightful dish.  It encourages new flavors and communal eating, which Miss Fats is a huge supporter of.  For years, Miss Fats’ family gathered at Obachan’s every single Wednesday to chow down on sukiyaki good times.  She hopes you will continue this tradition with friends and bring a little Obachan into your eating experiences.

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