Sukiyaki (Japanese Beef Hot Pot)

BY Melissa Uchiyama TIMEJanuary 27, 2022 PRINT

To make sukiyaki at home, you can buy a special wrought-iron sukiyaki pan, or simply use a large skillet. Sukiyaki is best enjoyed when cooked at the table with a portable stove, but you can certainly prepare it all in the kitchen and bring it out to family or guests.

Purchase ingredients such as kombu for dashi, Japanese leeks, and chrysanthemum greens at Asian markets, as well as shops online. Look for well-marbled, pre-sliced beef labeled for “sukiyaki” or “shabu shabu,” or you can buy ribeye or chuck and slice it thin yourself.

Serves 4

  • 1 pound thinly sliced beef for sukiyaki or shabu shabu
  • 1 package shirataki noodles (potato starch-based), or vermicelli rice noodles
  • 1/2 bunch garland chrysanthemum greens (shungiku or tong ho), or spinach
  • 1 Japanese leek (negi) or green onion, sliced diagonally into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 head napa cabbage (optional)
  • 8 fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 package enoki mushrooms
  • 1 package yaki dofu (seared/grilled firm tofu)
  • 4 pasteurized eggs, for serving (optional)

For the Warishita Sauce

  • 1/2 cup sake
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (shoyu)
  • 1 1/2 cup kombu dashi

Par-boil the shirataki noodles according to package instructions (this will help them absorb the flavor of the warishita broth), then drain and cut into 3-inch sections.

Rinse the shungiku greens and chop into 2-inch pieces. Slice the negi on a diagonal into 1-inch pieces. Clean and trim the napa cabbage and slice crosswise into 2-inch pieces. You can slice the thicker sections extra thin, so each piece cooks at a similar rate.

Clean and trim the mushrooms, slicing a shallow “X” into the cap of each shiitake mushroom, if desired, and cutting the enoki in half, if you prefer. Dry and cube the yaki dofu.

Arrange all of the add-ins, as well as the meat, on a large platter. Bring this platter, the ingredients for the sauce, and a long set of cooking chopsticks to your table.

Set a place for each diner: Provide a small dish for the sukiyaki, a smaller dish for each person’s egg (they can beat it themselves), and chopsticks.

Heat a pot over a portable tabletop stove to begin. Pour in the sake, sugar, and soy sauce, and bring to a simmer, stirring well to dissolve the sugar.

When the warishita sauce is gently simmering, add in a few pieces of beef. Depending on how thin the slices are, you may only need a couple of minutes before it’s ready to be pulled out, plunged into cool beaten egg, and enjoyed.

Next, add the vegetables, tofu, and shirataki noodles to the pan in any order, but do take care not to place the beef and shirataki noodles next to each other, as the beef will toughen from the starch in the noodles. Remove and enjoy as they cook. If the sauce gets too reduced or concentrated as you cook, pour in some dashi to thin it, little by little. You should have a shallow layer of liquid, but not so much that the ingredients are fully submerged, like a soup.

Continue to add in more ingredients—beef, vegetables, and others—as you want to eat and serve them. Don’t rush the meal; allow everyone to eat at their own pace, to linger and feel relaxed.

Melissa Uchiyama is a food writer, essayist, and teacher who leads creative writing camps in Tokyo. You can find Melissa at and on Instagram @melissauchiyamawrites.
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