Tuesday, November 3, 2015

My recipe for sukyaki-don, which is sukiyaki meat topped with egg on a bowl of hot white rice



Today I thought I'd share with you my very simple recipe for sukiyaki-don, which is basically sukiyaki on a bed of white rice, served in a bowl.

I love sukiyaki, but I think I like sukiyaki-don even more. And the best one in quite awhile that I've had was at the Michelin three-star kaiseki restaurant Yukimura in the Azabu are of Tokyo.

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THREE STARS AT
YUKIMURA IN AZABU

Yukimura is a one-room affair on the upper floor of a tiny building and I think it can only fit about 12 persons around a corner.

I had dinner there almost exactly one year ago, and the chef actually served sukiyaki-don at the end of the meal instead of the usual rice and pickles as with many other kaiseki restaurants.

This was excellent and it was a rather bold move for him. But then again he has lot of confidence, being a three-star chef.

SECRETS OF A GOOD SUKIYAKI

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The secret of a good sukiyaki-don boils down to several things:

1) Marbled thin slices of excellent beef. 
If the meat isn't marbled, it won't have that oily aftertaste that makes sukiyaki-don.

2) Freshly made, moist white rice, preferably Japanese. 
You must have new white rice for this sukiyaki-don or you will not have a good dish. And when you cook the rice, soak in an extra 30 minutes before cooking, and throw in half a cup of water so that the rice will be moist.



Personally, I prefer the rice brand called Milky Queen, which is one of the best in Japan, and the rice from Sado Prefecture, which is a cult brand because it's quite hard to get.

IT'S ALL ABOUT THE EGGS

3) Organic brown eggs. 
The eggs in sukiyaki are served raw so you must get the very best eggs possible and never cook it with the meat. The taste comes out completely different if you stir the egg in with meat, which a lot of overseas Japanese restaurants do.

In Tokyo, I use brown eggs from La Mere Poulard in Normandy, France, which I can get at a specialty store.


4) Finally, the sukiyaki sauce. 

Again, if you want to take the easy way out and just pour on a store-bought sauce, you must get the best available. The best sukiyaki sauces in a bottle are subtle in taste and not strong at all. You don't to overpower the meat, which the cheaper sauces tend to do as they are very strong in flavors.



MAKING YOUR OWN SUKIYAKI SAUCE

If you want to make your own sukiyaki sauce, it's a matter of mixing soy sauce, sugar and mirin and adjusting this to your taste by adding water to weaken it.

However, if you want an authentic Japanese taste, you must control both the saltiness and sweetness as the finest cuisine is very refined, bordering on bland.

A final note on the egg. In Japan, the eggs are only served raw and never cooked with the sukiyaki, but I like to fry the egg for about 10 seconds for sukiyaki-don just to keep the egg white intact while still keeping the yolk raw, before I place it on top of the beef bowl, for what one of my friends in Tokyo calls "essentially one of the most luxurious sukiyaki-don in the world," living a Travelife.

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