Sukiyaki udon is a delicious Japanese hot pot style dish made with chewy udon noodles served in a rich "sukiyaki" style broth with beef, tofu and vegetables. It's easy to make, seriously tasty and ready in less than 30 minutes!
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What is sukiyaki udon?
Sukiyaki udon is a rich and tasty dish made with udon noodles served in a simplified "sukiyaki soup" and simmered with meat, tofu and vegetables. The process is simple so it doesn't require a lot of work unlike actual sukiyaki.
You could say that it's an easy way to enjoy sukiyaki without all the hassle!
Sukiyaki is a unique Japanese hot pot dish (nabemono) where meat, tofu and vegetables are cooked in the sweet and savoury flavours of sugar and soy sauce.
We often eat sukiyaki by lifting the ingredients out of the soup and dipping them in a raw egg. (Eggs are generally safe to eat raw in Japan.) The egg adds a creamy taste and compliments the richness of the broth perfectly.
Sukiyaki has been around since the Edo period (1603-1868) and is said to have come to be called sukiyaki because instead of a pot, the metal part of a plow (suki in Japanese) was placed over the fire and fish and tofu were cooked.
For this reason, Chinese kanji characters for sukiyaki are 鋤 (plow) and 焼 (cooking).
"Nabe" is the Japanese word for pot and dishes cooked together in a "donabe" earthenware pot are called "nabemono" (鍋物) which can be translated to "hot pot dish".
When it comes to udon dishes, the noodles are usually cooked separately from the other ingredients and served in a bowl. However, in the case of "nabe udon" dishes, we blanch the udon to remove the starch and then cook them together in the pot with the other ingredients. This results in the udon noodles being a little softer than usual, but equally delicious.
Udon noodles are a type of thick, white and chewy noodle made from wheat flour. Because of their neutral flavour, they are versatile and you can use them in all different kinds of broths, mild or strong.
There are actually a few different types of udon noodles, the most popular one in Japan is "Sanuki Udon" (讃岐うどん). Sanuki udon are particularly thick and chewy with flat edges.
You can buy udon noodles fresh (chilled), dried and frozen. I personally like stocking up on frozen Sanuki udon because they are precooked and can be simply microwaved for a few minutes (so convenient!). Not only do they cook quickly but they also have a great texture.
Of course it depends on accessibility and your personal preference, use the best udon you can get your hands on!
Suitable beef cuts for sukiyaki
Sukiyaki is definitely a fancy dish and Japanese people usually eat it for celebrations and special occasions.
High quality wagyu beef is most often used for sukiyaki and it's always cut thin so that it's quicker and easier to cook in the broth.
Let's look the different kinds of beef in more detail.
For sukiyaki meat, well-marbled meat with a good amount of fat is ideal. If the meat contains a moderate amount of fat, the fat will melt away during the cooking process, giving your broth a rich and delicious sukiyaki-like flavour.
In addition to that, the marbled beef will become tender whereas leaner beef can become tough during simmering process.
Rib and loin have the most marbling while sirloin and round have the least. The amount of marbling depends on the breed of cow, Japanese wagyu cattle are famous for having extra marbling!
Plate is probably the most affordable part of the beef. Seeing as this recipe is just sukiyaki udon, not the actual sukiyaki, this is probably the best option!
However, you need to be careful when cooking plate as the meat can easily become tough and tasteless if it is cooked for too long.
Round is a leaner choice with little fat, but due to its low fat content, it can become tough if overcooked. You can definitely say this is one of the hardest cuts to deal with for sukiyaki.
I'd say it's not ideal for those who prefer fatty and tender meat, but good for people who do not like fatty cuts.
This part is a tender, fine-textured meat with a good marbling of fat and a rich flavour.
It has a strong flavour and can be cut into thin slices for shabu-shabu, sukiyaki and yakiniku, or cut into cubes for stewed dishes.
Rib has a good balance of lean and fat and is rich and flavourful. The marbled cuts are especially good for sukiyaki.
You could say it's the part of the meat where you can enjoy the best beefy flavour and taste. Definitely the most fancy option of all!
I do realise that some of the ingredients in this recipe are a bit hard to get. In that case, you can imply omit or replace with some of these more accessible alternatives.
Yaki dofu/firm tofu
I use a type of tofu called yaki dofu (焼き豆腐), which is drained tofu that is lightly grilled and seared on both sides over an open fire, giving the surface a charred look.
You can simply replace yaki dofu with firm or extra-firm tofu!
Shiitake mushroom/mushroom of your choice
If it's hard to get fresh shiitake mushrooms in your area, you can use any mushroom of your choice.
For example, button mushroom, brown mushroom or portobello mushroom...etc. They're all great for hot pot dishes.
Shungiku (crown daisy) is probably the most unaccessible in this recipe. Here are the ideas for alternative:
- Chinese cabbage
- Pak choi
It's always nice to add some leafy greens to hot pot dishes!
I hope you can enjoy a bit of luxurious flavour with this quick and easy recipe for sukiyaki udon!Print