I love anything that can be slurped from a deep bowl with chopsticks and a spoon (I like the idea of tackling a dish with two utensils–it feels very industrious). I often riff off the general idea of browning some kind of meat and vegetables with different seasonings/herbs and dumping them into a big pot with noodles and broth.
Sukiyaki is a Japanese variation on this simple concept. Instead of browning the meat, it is thinly sliced and simmered, along with vegetables and noodles, in a broth made with soy sauce, mirin and sugar. The meat in this version is thinly sliced lean beef from the tenderloin.
Resources used: I borrowed a lot from a recipe for beef and onion sukiyaki in Ming Tsai’s Simply Ming: One Pot Meals cookbook. I highly recommend this book if you love fool-proof one-pot dishes. And even the most basic sounding recipes contain something slightly unexpected.
I added rice wine vinegar for a little punch of acidity and swapped out the rice stick noodles for Chinese wheat-based noodles. Cilantro leaves added a splash of color and a fresh, grassy note. You can certainly add vegetables or change the protein if you prefer–it’s a wonderfully versatile dish. I especially love the idea of floating the beef on the surface of the liquid to cook it–it makes for a spectacular presentation when you place the pot in the middle of the table.
Beef, onion and ginger “sukiyaki”
1 8-oz. package Chinese noodles (could also use rice stick or soba noodles)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, sliced into half moons
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
3 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce
6 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 pound beef tenderloin or filet mignon, sliced paper thin (you can have your butcher do this or stick the meat in the freezer for about 30 minutes and then go at it yourself with a super sharp knife and a good deal of patience)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
Sriracha, to pass at the table
Method: Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain, rinse and set aside until ready to serve.
Heat the canola oil in a large heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers when you move the pan. Add the onion and ginger and sauté until tender and slightly caramelized, 8-10 minutes.
Add the mirin and vinegar (head back or sinuses will be cleared instantly), and cook until it’s reduced by about half. Then add the sugar, soy sauce and chicken broth. Let it simmer for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to come together. Check for seasoning and adjust as needed with salt, pepper and additional soy.
Dump in the noodles and stir for a minute to heat them through. Carefully float the beef pieces on the surface of the broth, turning after 30 seconds or so to cook both sides.
Sprinkle with cilantro and freshly cracked pepper. To serve, pile some noodles and beef into deep bowls. Ladle in enough broth to go about halfway up the noodles. Garnish with additional cilantro leaves.
Serves 3-4 good friends, as there will be no talking for awhile, just slurping.