sukiyaki


First of all, look at all these mushrooms I got at Pacific Market at Alameda Square, Denver for $2.67. Is that impressive or what?



There's something about beef stock with soy sauce, mirin, and saki that is addictively delicious. Add to that flavors imparted by these vegetables and you're transported to heaven temporarily, if heaven has food which I rather doubt. Hey! It's a metaphor, a'ight?

If you don't have soy sauce then use tamari. If you don't have tamari then use salt. If you don't have mirin then add a little sugar. If you don't have saki, then fine! Just forget it. No wait, you can use sherri or a white wine. The point is to enhance the broth with body and with a little sweetness.

Normally, the ingredients are cooked together in a cast-iron pot with a tight-fitting wooden lid. The only pots I could find were cheap-ass piddly crap that I didn't want around so instead, I gently cooked the items separately in the broth holding them together within a large slotted spoon similar to a spider except not as spidery. It was sort of a pain in the butt doing it that way but my impatience ensured no item was overcooked and others not at all. One by one I cooked each item in the broth nestled in the slotted spoon then placed the separated items into the serving bowl. Finally, poured the enhanced broth over the separated piles. That's one thing I like about sukiyaki is everything is in a separate pile inside the bowl instead of being all mixed up.

Two types of noodles are generally used for sukiyaki:

1) Harusame made from potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice or mung bean starch. Closely related to cellophane noodles which can be substituted.

2) Shirataki made from devil's tongue plant mosty composed of a dietary fiber called glucomannan and contain very few calories and carbohydraes, sometimes even zero. Not much flavor but absorb flavors well. Can also be made from konjac flour. (From the roots of konjac plant, yam-like, grown in Japan and China)

Pacific Market has hundreds of types of Asian noodles, an entire aisle plus more scattered around the store. None of the packages said in English "harusame" or "shirataki." This proved to be a bit of a problem for me so I winged it. The shirataki-like noodles I bought were in the refrigerated section and they're packaged wet. They look like squishy worms. They can be purchased yellow, snow white, or black, which really isn't black at all but gray with black dots. That's the kind I got because they seemed the most interesting. I'm using Chinese cellophane rice noodles for the harusame. All the packages said in English, if they said anything at all is, "rice vermicelli," "rice noodles," "bean noodles," "yam noodles," or some such. This caused me unnecessary distress and confusion. Just get rice noodles of your choice.

The store I went to has mushrooms like there's no tomorrow. Huge bags of dried mushrooms of every grade and sort. Odd things you never heard of. Fresh mushrooms that are considered exotic and expensive in Western markets. They have everything except the ordinary button mushroom or portobello, or baby portobello that I'm used to seeing. I went nuts. I got a whole bunch of stuff except for the tree oysters which I thought I'd just not get around to before they turned to slime. (I already have ordinary mushrooms that I must use before they're wasted)

* fresh bamboo sprouts that you pull out of a tub of water like a salad bar.
* fresh mung been sprouts that are sold in huge bags, like I'm really going to eat all those.
* spring onions
* shredded carrot (cut on a lethal Japanese Benriner slicer)
* tofu marketed as "pressed bean curd" it's much more compacted than extra-firm tofu. It's the same thing except much less water.
* shitaki mushrooms
* enoki mushrooms (enokidake, snow puff, golden, velvet stem)
* napa cabbage (wom bok, baechu, hakusai)


* beef broth -- carton 365 Whole Foods brand, I'm a little bit surprised how weak this broth is. It really needs the help of saki + mirin + soy sauce + juice from pre-cooking beef

* saki -- I really do not care for saki. This took some doing. There is only one type I ever had that I could stand and that was at a restaurant, and it was only good after the first few sips burned through. I called the restaurant. They were closed. Went to Argonauts which is a huge liquor store thankfully nearby. The people there are totally ace. They went online as I had done earlier but found the restaurant's saki list which I failed to find earlier. We called the restaurant from the liquor store (the number was still in my Blackberry). The liquor store cooperated extravagantly to ensure I was satisfied. I was amazed how packed the place was for a Sunday, oi, and how excellent the service.

* mirin -- the sweet kind, not the gross kind, if in doubt, use sugar.

* beef top round sliced as thin as possible -- kind of tough although fabulously flavorful. I couldn't help but eat it while it was frying even though it was a little too tough for sukiyaki. Fried first to brown, then pressure cooked to tenderness. Overdid the pressure cooking and it became too tender. See? It's a fine line there. The thing is, UPS came right when this was going on. A very attractive and engaging bird is substituting over Christmas for the regular sour bloke so naturally I was distracted. I showed her my aquarium all cleaned up, my prototype pop-up cards, we talked about her upcoming road trip etc., anyway, the pressure cooker went longer than intended. So there's that.






1 comment:

Hillary Miller said...

Gosh!
We really love the way you shot Sukiyaki
You are really not just a food blogger, we think that you are a professional food photographer.

As a food photography site, we're always looking for best food pictures to feature on our site http://www.foodporn.net/

Why don't you submit yours and make other people hungry.
You know it’s fun to make others hungry. Especially when they are so hungry they finally want to create your recipe. :)
It is worth the try. :)
Thanks!

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