Ever had trouble finding Japanese recipes that were easy to make?
We now have "cooking Japanese with ease", our full recipe book and video course with step-by-step tutorials on your favorite recipes.
If you like delicious hot pot, then you’re going to be a fan of this easy recipe. There’s no doubt sukiyaki is one of Japan’s favorite hot pot dishes, and it might just become yours too!
The good news is, it’s easier than you might think, as making sukiyaki only takes about 30 to 40 minutes. Eating it is the fun part though, so take your time!
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 How to make sukiyaki at home
- 2 Beef sukiyaki recipe
- 3 What is sukiyaki sauce made of?
- 4 Sukiyaki recipe substitutions and variations
- 5 What is sukiyaki?
- 6 FAQs
- 7 Enjoy some tasty sukiyaki with your loved ones
How to make sukiyaki at home
Beef sukiyaki recipe
For the sauce:
- 2 tbsp sake
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup mirin
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
For the rest of the sukiyaki:
- 12 oz very thinly sliced beef fatty and marbled, preferably
- ½ block of tofu firm
- 1 package enoki mushrooms
- 6 shiitake mushrooms fresh or rehydrated
- 2 cups of nappa cabbage shredded (regular cabbage works too)
- 2 scallions chopped
- 1 bundle of shirataki or vermicelli noodles
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 cups dashi
- 2 cups steamed rice
- 1 cup of tong ho or shungiko optional or use chopped parsley
- Grab a large saucepan. Over medium heat, add in the mirin, sake, soy sauce, and brown sugar while stirring. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat off. Put the sauce into a bowl for later use.
- Soak the udon noodles in water for about 10 minutes.
- While the noodles soak, chop all of your ingredients, slice the beef, and set them aside. Cut the tofu into ¼ inch pieces. The beef must be sliced into almost paper-thin strips.
- Heat up the vegetable oil in the pan. Cut the white parts of the scallion separately and fry them in oil for a couple of minutes.
- Now add in the beef. Sear the beef for 20 seconds, and then add a small drizzle of sukiyaki sauce. Continue frying the beef until it starts to brown. Once it’s almost all brown but still has a bit of pink color, remove the meat from the pan and set it aside for later.
- Add the remaining sukiyaki sauce to the pan and the 2 cups of dashi stock. Bring the liquids to a boil and add the tofu, napa cabbage, enoki mushrooms, and tong ho or parsley. Push the ingredients to one side of the pan.
- Drain the udon noodles and add them to the other side of the pan. Cover the pot and bring everything to a simmer and let it cook for about 7 minutes.
- Remove the lid and add the beef back into the pot. Now you can add the green parts of the scallions and poached eggs if you want.
What better way to host a get-together with friends and family than with a comforting dish with tasty beef and veggies, all in a sweet and savory soy broth?
Eating sukiyaki is fun! It’s all cooked and served at the table from the pot, and everyone gets to eat the ingredients in the order they want and crack their own egg into a small bowl to dip the meat into.
Then at the end of the meal, you get to enjoy chewy udon noodles.
Before you go off and create this Japanese dish, I want to talk to you about this special sukiyaki pan they use in Japan.
It’s a large cast iron sukiyaki pan with a wooden lid and a long thin handle, like a basket handle.
The pan has high edges to make room for lots of liquid. It’s designed specifically for sukiyaki, but you can use it for most hot pot dishes.
The wooden lid helps absorb the steam and liquids much better than a metal or iron lid. Since the pan is large, it’s ideal for cooking for a family of up to 5 people.
If you like to cook hot pot meals, I highly recommend grabbing an original sukiyaki pan:
If you don’t have one, you can use a regular cast iron pan or any pan with a thick bottom and high edges.
What is sukiyaki sauce made of?
Sukiyaki sauce, also known as warishita, is a Japanese sauce that defines the flavor of sukiyaki.
The main ingredients are sugar, Japanese soy sauce, mirin, and sake.
How can you make sukiyaki sauce, or warishita?
Although the recipe is simple and easy, this condiment leaves a big room to create different flavors between many sukiyaki dishes.
There are no actual rules on the proportion of each ingredient for warishita. However, to create the most-balanced flavor, you can try this recipe.
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup Japanese soy sauce
- 1 cup mirin
- 1 cup sake
- You can use more mirin and less sake to get a deeper sweetness. But if you prefer the sukiyaki sauce to taste lighter, pour the sake in a larger amount than mirin.
- To cook the sukiyaki sauce, you can pour all the ingredients into one pan. Put it on medium heat and simmer until it boils. Turn off the heat and set it aside. Your warishita is now ready to use.
Overall, the flavor of sukiyaki comes as a result of balancing sweetness and saltiness.
The sweetness comes from the sugar. Some people prefer using brown sugar while others prefer regular white sugar.
The sugar will get caramelized while cooking, enhancing its taste.
Japanese soy sauce (or shoyu) has a salty flavor. Sometimes, you don’t even need to add salt to the dish if you’re already using a generous amount of it.
Lastly, sake and mirin are what create the depth and complexity to the flavor. Mirin also adds sweetness to the flavor, while sake will add lightness to the sukiyaki stock.
I’ve even written this in-depth post about cooking sake you can take a look at. It’s probably the most used ingredient for umami in Japanese cooking.
Can you get ready-made, store-bought sukiyaki sauce?
Even though it’s easy to prepare warishita, sometimes, we’re too lazy or have no time for it. Also, balancing flavors can be pretty challenging if we’re not familiar with it.
As a solution, you can buy ready-made sauce from supermarkets or online marketplaces. Here are some popular brands.
Kikkoman is a leading brand of Asian cooking sauces, with most products catering to Japanese cuisine. Their sukiyaki sauce is one of their best-selling products!
The company is still using traditional brewing methods to preserve the authentic taste of their sauce. This brand is the most-exported warishita throughout the world.
Yamasa sukiyaki senka provides an enhanced flavor of regular warishita. It combines regular shoyu with tamari as its main ingredient.
Some bits of bonito flakes and kombu extract are also added, making the flavor even more savory.
Yamasa is a US company, but they import their warishita from Japan. So the product would be easy to find in America, without compromising on authentic Japanese taste.
Ebara is also a leading brand of Japanese ready-made sauces. This brand provides 2 variations of sukiyaki sauce to cater to people with different preferences.
They have sauces in both original and mild taste.
Sukiyaki recipe substitutions and variations
Beef is a must-have ingredient if you want authentic sukiyaki. And it should be a fatty and marbled beef that’s going to add juiciness.
Of course, you can use very thin slices of pork or chicken if you don’t like beef.
Some of the Japanese ingredients, like napa cabbage, are harder to find in the West. But the good news is that you can use the leafy greens you can find at the supermarket, and the dish will have a very similar flavor!
Shungiku (crown daisy, chrysanthemum leaves), or tong ho in Chinese, is the traditional vegetable used in Japanese and Chinese hot pot dishes. It has a slightly bitter taste.
However, it’s hard to find outside of Japan. You can use parsley and cilantro as a substitute.
The best vegetables to use are white cabbage, red cabbage, bok choy, spinach, and shiitake mushrooms.
The traditional recipe contains a type of green onion called Tokyo Negi. If you can’t find it, use scallions, spring onions, or leeks for a similar sweet and savory flavor.
As for noodles, the recipe calls for shirataki noodles, or yam noodles. These are long white noodles made from the konjac plant.
Shirataki noodles are popular because they’re considered to be a “zero-calorie” noodle.
A great substitute for these noodles is vermicelli, which has a similar glass noodle appearance and texture.
What is sukiyaki?
Sukiyaki (すき焼き) is a Japanese hot pot dish, similar to shabu shabu. It’s a bold-tasting dish with beef and vegetables cooked with tofu and noodles in broth.
The dish is made in a special cast iron pot. First, the thin slices of beef are seared, and then all the other ingredients are added, including a tasty broth.
The main ingredients for sukiyaki are beef or pork, leafy vegetables (spinach, napa cabbage, bok choy), mushrooms (enoki, shiitake), tofu, egg, and a sweet and salty soy sauce broth.
Sukiyaki is cooked on a tabletop grill by diners. Everyone can use chopsticks to add more ingredients to the pot, eat it, and add more.
You’ll most often see people eating sukiyaki during their lunch break. Colleagues gather around the table to have a quick yet filling meal.
Origin of sukiyaki
Sukiyaki started out as a celebratory meal for families to gather around the table, cook, and eat together. Like all hot pot dishes, it’s a great way to spend time together, especially during important occasions.
Sukiyaki was invented sometime in the 1860s in the Edo period when eating beef was allowed.
The name of the dish is a mix between the word “suki,” which means “spade,” and “yaki,” which is “grilled”. It references the fact that the beef is paper-thin and cut with a blade. As well, farmers used a spade to cook their food over the grill.
During the 1860s, Japan experienced an influx of new foods and foreign cooking methods. A lot of chefs began to experiment more with beef, eggs, and cow’s milk. Thus, dishes like sukiyaki became popular.
It’s believed that the first sukiyaki restaurant opened in Yokohama in 1862. They served Kanto-style sukiyaki, and everything was cooked and simmered in the sauce.
Read more about Japanese beef: Incredibly Easy Way to Cook Beef Misono Tokyo Style
How to serve and eat sukiyaki
The sukiyaki is cooked on a tabletop stove in a cast-iron pot.
Traditionally, you’ll receive an individual bowl and chopsticks to eat sukiyaki. Each person can add ingredients to the pot using chopsticks.
There will also be a bigger chopstick called tori-bashi to move things from the sukiyaki pot to your bowl. Using your own chopsticks for this purpose would be seen as disgusting and rude because you also put them in your mouth.
As soon as the ingredients start to run out, people add more to cook. It’s a great dining style for groups of people because you can simultaneously cook, eat, and socialize.
In Japan, it’s common to dip sukiyaki ingredients in raw eggs.
But the combination of sukiyaki sauce and raw egg will be less tasty as they turn colder. So I’d recommend not having too many ingredients in your bowl because they’ll get cold quickly.
In the West, it’s prohibited to consume raw eggs at restaurants. So an alternative is to purchase pasteurized eggs from the supermarket.
But you can also just dip into poached eggs.
Side dishes for sukiyaki
The most common side dish for sukiyaki is white rice. A bowl of white rice goes well with this saucy beef and veggie mixture and also helps keep you fuller for longer.
But there’s a Japanese tradition where people have a bowl of udon noodles along with sukiyaki or right after they finish it.
If you’re a huge noodle fan, then go for it! But since sukiyaki already contains shirataki or vermicelli noodles, you might already feel full.
The general sukiyaki etiquette is that you finish off the dish with more carbohydrates like noodles.
As I’ve mentioned, Japanese people love to dip sukiyaki ingredients into raw eggs, but if you do so, the egg must be fresh and preferably pasteurized.
Read more about this: Why do the Japanese put raw egg on rice? Is it safe?
Want to learn more about sukiyaki? No problem! I’ll answer some questions below.
What are the regional sukiyaki variations?
Two main types of sukiyaki are popular in different regions of Japan: Kansai and Kanto. Kansai is the Osaka region, whereas Kanto refers to the Tokyo region.
Kansai sukiyaki is different because the meat is seared first, along with soy sauce, sake, and sugar. Then, diners taste some of the meat before the other ingredients are added to the pot.
In Kanto sukiyaki, the sauce, called warishita, 割り下, is cooked first with the meat to draw out the grease. Then, all the ingredients are added to the sauce and cooked together.
You also need to beat a raw egg in a bowl and serve it alongside the hot pot as a dipping sauce.
Although the egg sauce is authentically from Kansai, this condiment has been a common thing in every area of Japan.
In terms of meat, this dish requires a special thinly sliced beef. It’s usually labeled as sukiyaki or shabu shabu meat in Asian grocery shops. It’s sliced to the perfect thinness specifically for this dish.
The meat must be well-marbled, and it should be a premium cut of beef. For the ultimate sukiyaki experience, try Wagyu beef, which is extremely expensive but very tasty.
What can you put in sukiyaki?
I’ve given you some ingredients to start off with. But the beauty of sukiyaki is you can add anything you want, so long as it suits your taste!
For example, you can experiment with snow peas and cut tofu.
Enjoy some tasty sukiyaki with your loved ones
Well, I’m not surprised sukiyaki is so popular to this day. The juicy beef in that sweet and savory sauce is so tasty and you just can’t get enough!
The crunchiness of the cabbage and the bitterness of tong ho make this a dish with many flavors. It’s definitely a crowd-pleaser and a family favorite across Asia.
I’m sure we’ll be seeing more sukiyaki restaurants pop up across North America because hot pot meals are such a fun way to dine with friends and family!
For more crowd-pleasers, read Best Sushi Making Kit | Top 6 reviewed +some sushi party tips
Ever had trouble finding Japanese recipes that were easy to make?