Tuesday I look a Suki Yaki cooking class. Suki Yaki in Japan is sort of like America's "fondue". According to our teacher, Suki Yaki is a meal that everyone loves to eat, but is reserved for "family gatherings" and "special events" because while it is very easy to make, it can also be costly.
Suki Yaki consists of beef and vegetables cooked in a nabe pot with a special dashi based sauce. This special nabe pot is used right at the table so people eat as they go and can help cook if they wish.
First you have to make a dashi base using dried kelp, water and dried bonito flakes. Or you can cheat and buy dashi powder and just mix with water (this would be my choice). This is then mixed with soy sauce, miran and brown sugar to create the "sauce" for the dish.
Meanwhile you cut raw veggies typically consisting of negi (a large scallion), Chinese cabbage, shungiku (Garland chrysanthemum leaves), shiitake and enokitake mushrooms, and konnyaku.
The teacher explained the veggies would be cut all pretty an arranged in a beautiful display on plates. Obviously we concentrated more on cooking than the presence.
Now it is time to start cooking.
First the beef is cooked in a bit of the sauce in the nabe pan. The interesting part is that the meat for Suki Yaki is more expensive because you need thin, yet somewhat fatty, beef. In the states you pay more for leaner cuts of meat but in Japan you pay extra for the fatty stuff. Anyways, a portion of the meat is cooked and people eat until they have had enough.
Next more of the sauce is poured into the pan, along with the remainder of the beef, vegetables, and some cut up seared firm tofu. You mix until cooked, serve with some rice and there you go! Suki Yaki cooking.
I have to admit it was delicious and to be honest one of my favorite parts was the tofu and I don't even like tofu! So now my goal is to get a nabe pot to use at home. I think this is one meal the kids would love making.