Sukiyaki is a delicious Japanese dish that’s easy to prepare at home. Try my “easy” recipe for a different kind of noodle dinner tonight!
Sukiyaki is a very traditional Japanese dish, one that is a mainstay in many restaurants today. I have always enjoyed the dish when eating out, and through the years I’ve developed my own variation of it for easy cooking at home. It’s one of my favorite dishes to prepare on a regular basis, especially when I’ve got some leftover cooked chicken or turkey to use up in different ways.
My recipe utilizes a standard sukiyaki sauce base but is a little non-traditional in cooking technique – nevertheless the resulting dish is delicious! I have prepared this meal for many friends and family through the years and they always enjoyed it. I’ve found it’s a great way to get kids to eat (and enjoy) their vegetables, too, and to introduce nutritious tofu into the diet in a very palatable way. Let me share how you can prepare this delicious dish at home for something unique and exciting for your whole family to enjoy tonight!
Many of the vegetable and protein ingredients in this dish can be modified and changed based on what you have on hand, but what is vitally important is the base broth of soy sauce, sugar, water and mirin. This creates the classic sweet-and-salty sukiyaki broth that people know and love. Tofu is also an important element of the dish – in fact, you can make this meal vegetarian by leaving out any form of meat protein. You could also make this a seafood sukiyaki by adding in shrimp, squid or clams near the end (I would not pre-cook them in that case but just add to the simmering broth when you add the noodles.)
Of the vegetable ingredients I’ve listed below, I consider onions, mushrooms and cabbage absolutely vital. Green onions add a nice finishing touch if you have them, and I also will add carrots, spinach or bamboo shoots for variety on occasion. The important thing is to cook your vegetables through but not too much – they should remain crisp-tender and not mushy when served.Pressing the excess moisture out of the tofu is an important step which should not be skipped – it helps the flavor of the sukiyaki broth absorb into the tofu and make it much more palatable (especially to those who normally don’t like tofu!) Use that time while the tofu is being pressed to chop and prepare your other ingredients – that way the actual cooking will go fast and you’ll be able to quickly add ingredients when and as called for.
- Prep time: 30 min
- Cook time: 30 min
- Ready in: 1 hour
- Yields: 4 to 6 main dish meals
- 2 cups cooked chicken or turkey meat
- 1 14.5 ounce block extra-firm tofu
- 1 medium white onion
- 2 stalks celery (preferably Chinese)
- 6 to 8 shitake mushrooms
- 1 turnip
- 8 green onions
- 2-3 baby bok choy
- 1/2 head Chinese cabbage (or regular green cabbage)
- 3 ounces dried bean thread noodles (vermicelli)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 6-8 cups water
- 4 tablespoons mirin (use sake or dry sherry as an alternative)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Drain tofu, then wrap in paper towels. Place block on a plate and then put a weight on top of it to expel as much moisture as possible. Leave to sit and press out moisture for 30 minutes. When done, unwrap the tofu and cut into large cubes, about 1-1.5″ in size.
Meanwhile, prepare your mise en place by assembling other ingredients necessary for cooking. Slice or chop all vegetables to medium size pieces (any especially firm vegetables such as carrots, turnips or parsnips should be sliced thin or julienned). Keep them in separate bowls for easy adding, in order.
Shred the cooked turkey or chicken (if using) and set aside.
Combine the sugar, soy sauce, 2 cups water and mirin in a bowl; stir until sugar is dissolved and taste. The flavor should be pleasantly sweet and salty; you may decide to add additional sugar if you think the broth needs it and also depending on the quality of your mirin (or other sweet cooking wine).
In a sauce pan, add about 4 cups of water and place over a small burner on the stove over medium-high heat. This will be used to cook the vermicelli noodles later on.
Get out a large Dutch oven or large saute pan (I love my Emerilware Chef’s Stainless Steel 5 Quart Saute Pan for this recipe). Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium-high heat; add onions, celery, and any other “hard” vegetables (like carrots, turnips or parsnips) you might be using at this point. “Sweat” these vegetables until just starting to soften and brown, but not too long – about 3 minutes should suffice.
Next add your “softer” vegetables (mushrooms, bok choy, cabbage, green onions) and to to the saute pan. Cook until the cabbage and bok choy are beginning to wilt and the tofu is lightly browned – about 4-5 minutes.
Meanwhile see if the water for cooking the vermicelli is at a boil; if so, add noodles to pot and turn off heat – just allow the noodles to seep in the hot water for 5 minutes.
Add the cooked meat (turkey, chicken or otherwise) and the prepared sukiyaki “broth” to the saute pan. Lower heat and cook through only so that the meat and broth is nicely warmed through, just up to a decent simmer – do not overcook!
When vermicelli is ready, drain and add to the sukiyaki. Stir gently to combine, trying to be careful not to break up the tofu cubes. Test the flavor of the broth and see if anything needs adjustment (more sugar, soy or a touch of salt.)
When ready, gently ladle (or use tongs) to serve up a mixture of noodles, vegetables and meat/tofu into each serving bowl. Ladle in broth and top with a few fresh sliced green onions, if available. Otherwise, the sukiyaki can be brought to the table in the cooking pot and everyone can “scoop” out the ingredients they most enjoy in their bowls.