Today food bloggers write to help bring awareness and donations for disaster relief efforts after Hurricane Sandy. The topic is--what comfort meal would you make for people in devastating circumstances? My contribution is beef sukiyaki, a Japanese dish to which nothing else holds a candle.
Try as he might, my Dad is not a chef by any standards. Truth be told, he was never vying to become one. His idea of a gourmet sandwich is taking two pieces of buttered bread and melting Velveeta cheese and Spam in between the slices. (My own guilty pleasure, by far). But unlike such a heart-stopping concoction, there is a dish that he can make exquisitely and that I clamor for every time I'm home. Sukiyaki is a sweet stew, traditionally filled with razor thin slices of beef, chunks of tofu, Napa cabbage, mushrooms, fish cake or kamaboko and whatever the preparer wishes to throw in. The broth is a mix of sugar and soy sauce, and my father was quite heavy handed on the sugar, never erring on the side of "health." It's warm, it's communal, and it takes time to prepare. In its simplicity, it's an elegant dish.
- 1 lb thinly sliced beef
- 8 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
- 1 enoki mushroom, trimmed
- 1/2 Napa cabbage, washed and cut into 2 inch wide pieces
- 1 package bean sprouts, washed
- 1 package Kamaboko (fish cake)
- 2-3 packages firm tofu
- 4 pasteurized eggs for dipping
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 1 cup cooking sake
- 1 cup mirin
- 4 tbsp sugar
1. Heat sauce in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Place the
beef in first (and make sure to not crowd the pan) and cook until the
pink is gone.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients little by little, starting with the vegetables and allowing the flavors to simmer together. Reduce to low heat.
3. Serve with white rice.
4. As an option, dip the beef in the egg.
This is not just what I grew up on, it links me to a nostalgic memory of being at home with my family, which, in times of horrible disaster, is the only thing that ever really matters.