Steak and vegetables are simmered in a sweet sauce, served over noodles, and topped with pan fried tofu in this Japanese hotpot dish.
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On to the food.
If you’re not familiar with it, sukiyaki is a Japanese hotpot dish normally cooked in a pot at the table, like fondue. Sukiyaki is typically made with meat, vegetables, and tofu, simmered in a sweet broth. After the food is cooked, diners dip each piece of food into a bowl of raw egg before eating it.
I made some modifications to the traditional recipe. Sukiyaki is normally served with shirataki noodles, noodles that are made from a sort of root vegetable starch. I don’t particularly care for them, so I used whole wheat pasta. This sukiyaki gets cooked on the stove rather than table-side. I also fried the tofu separately and added it at the end so it would be slightly crispy in contrast with the soupy dish. And I skipped the raw egg finish. (I don’t recommend trying it unless you can buy pasteurized liquid eggs, like the kind sold in a milk carton.)
I was very happy with the results.
I made this recipe a couple months ago when it wasn’t that cold yet here. One Tuesday night, when I walking to the bus stop in Boston to take the bus home from work, it started pouring. No umbrella, no rain jacket. During the 100 foot walk from the subway station to the bus stop, my pants and my jacket got completely soaked through. The rain was so hard that even my shirt underneath my jacket got wet. Then the bus was air conditioned because it was still kind of warm and humid, and I got so cold. Jonathan picked me up from the bus stop by home with the heat on full blast in his car. The second we got home, I squeezed the water out of my hair and changed into pajamas. Then I microwaved leftovers of this sukiyaki for dinner.
It was so perfect. This is the kind of bone-warming nourishing cold-weather supper that really delivers on those kinds of days. It’s quick and easy and needs to go into your meal plan, especially if you like sweet sauces, like teriyaki sauce. (On the other hand, if you prefer your food less sweet, leave out the sugar and substitute a dry wine for the mirin.)
Side note: You know what else is a great dinner for those caught-in-the-rain days? Apple Cider Braised Short Ribs. I mean, they take too long to make when you get home from work, but eating the leftovers… mmm.
Here are the main ingredients. We’ve got ribeye steak, whole wheat thin spaghetti (use any long-cut pasta you like), shiitake mushrooms, baby bok choy, sweet potatoes, tofu, brown sugar, and scallions.
If you have an Asian supermarket near you, you can probably find a variety of sukiyaki meat, sliced paper thin to cook quickly at the table. The sliced ribeye I used here was sold at my local (non-Asian) supermarket as “shabu shabu meat” (for a slightly different kind of hotpot). If you are going to substitute a different cut of meat, I recommend sticking with something pretty fatty. I don’t think this dish tastes as good with leaner steak.
If you are going to slice the steak yourself, here’s a tip. Put the steak in the freezer for 45 minutes to 1 hour before cooking. When you take it out, it will be firm enough to easily cut thin slices. (Obviously don’t leave it in the freezer too long or your steak will be frozen solid and too hard to slice.)
I browned the ribeye in two batches. Here’s a picture:
In the ingredients list, I noted to separate the white and light green parts of the scallions from the darker green parts. It’s less a matter of color than personal preference. The white and light green parts get cooked with the steak and add some flavor to the sauce while the dark green parts are used for garnish. So think of it as which part of the scallion you want to eat raw versus cooked.
You’ll add the sauce and vegetables to the pot and then fry up the tofu while those cook. (The pasta is cooked separately.) Put everything together in a bowl, spoon some more sauce over it, and this cozy, healthy dinner is ready.
Quick scheduling note: Check out the blog on Monday. I don’t normally post on Mondays, but I’ll be sharing a recipe for a Thanksgiving side dish.
Beef Sukiyaki with Pan Fried Tofu
- 8 ounces whole wheat thin spaghetti
- 3 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil, divided
- 1 1/2 pounds ribeye steak, thinly sliced
- salt and pepper
- 6 green onions, sliced, white and light green parts separated from dark green parts
- 3 cups low sodium beef broth
- 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
- 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms
- 6 baby bok choy, halved
- 1 (15 ounce) package extra firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook pasta based on package directions.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Season steak with salt and pepper. Add half of steak and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes, until browned. Remove from pot and brown the second half of the steak.
Add the first half of the steak back to the pot with the second half. Add the white and light green parts of the green onions to the pot with the steak and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often. Add the broth, soy sauce, mirin, and brown sugar. Stir to combine. Place the sweet potatoes over the beef. Then add the mushrooms. Add the bok choy on top. (The vegetables don’t all have to be submerged in liquid. The bok choy on top will steam.) Cover and reduce heat to medium. Let simmer until the sweet potato is tender, about 12 minutes.
While the sukiyaki is cooking, fry the tofu. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Season tofu with salt and pepper. Cook without stirring for 5 minutes, to let the bottom part of the tofu get brown. Flip over the cubes with tongs and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Move the tofu around now and then to let as much as possible brown, especially if you notice one side of your pan is hotter and the tofu there is browning faster than the rest.
To serve, put cooked spaghetti into bowls. Ladle the beef, vegetable, and sauce mixture over the noodles. Top each bowl with a few pieces of fried tofu and the green parts of the green onions.