Tokyo-style beef sukiyaki
Total time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6
Note: Broiled tofu and itokonnyaku noodles are available at Japanese markets. Sliced rib-eye is generally available at Japanese and Korean markets; you could also ask your butcher to slice it. To slice the meat yourself, freeze it until it is partially hardened (2 to 3 hours), then slice very thinly against the grain with a very sharp knife.
1 tablespoon ( 1/2 ounce) beef fat or suet
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 cups sake
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 pound nappa cabbage or bok choy, sliced crosswise at an angle into 2-inch pieces
1 package firm tofu or yakitofu (broiled tofu), cut into 12 pieces
4 ounces (about 8) shiitake mushrooms, stemmed (and halved at an angle, if desired)
1 bunch green onions, cut on the bias into 2-inch pieces
1 (7-ounce) package itokonnyaku, rinsed, strained and cut in half
1 1/2 pounds boneless rib-eye, sliced 1/8 -inch thick
2 cups stemmed shungiku (chrysanthemum leaves) or watercress, stemmed
1. Heat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat and place the beef fat in the pan, moving it around with chopsticks or spatula as it melts so that the entire surface is greased. When the fat is hot (it may not be entirely melted; it will melt as the dish cooks), add the sugar and cook until it begins to caramelize. Add the soy sauce and sake (be careful as it will sputter).
2. In arranged mounds, add the onion, cabbage, tofu, mushrooms, green onions and itokonnyaku; they should be placed in neat bunches, leaving some room for the beef.
3. Bring the contents of the pan to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Place the beef in a mound in the pan, alongside the other ingredients. Cook just until the vegetables are tender and the meat is cooked to the desired consistency, about 8 minutes, pressing the ingredients into the broth so that they cook evenly. Add the shungiku leaves in the center on top of the other ingredients and simmer just until the leaves wilt, about a minute. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
Each of 6 servings: 487 calories; 31 grams protein; 35 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 15 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 52 mg. cholesterol; 9 grams sugar; 267 mg. sodium.