Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Broiled tofu and itokonnyaku noodles are available at speciality or Japanese markets. Sliced rib-eye is generally available at Japanese and Korean markets; you can also have your butcher slice it.
1 1/2 pounds boneless rib-eye, sliced 1/8-inch thick, trimmed, fat reserved
3 tablespoons sugar
2 cups sake or white wine
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 package (14 ounces) firm tofu or yakitofu (broiled tofu), cut into 12 pieces
1 package (7 ounces) Japanese itokonnyaku noodles, rinsed, cut in half
1 bunch green onions, cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 pound nappa cabbage or bok choy, sliced diagonally into 2-inch pieces
4 ounces (about 8) shiitake mushrooms, stemmed
2 cups watercress, stemmed
Heat a large skillet over medium heat; add beef fat. Cook, stirring it around to grease the pan, until hot. Add the sugar; cook until it begins to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Carefully add the sake and soy sauce (it will sputter).
Place in arranged mounds the tofu, noodles, green onions, onion, cabbage and mushrooms, leaving some room for the beef. Heat to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to simmer.
Add the beef in a mound. 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.
Place the watercress in the center on top of the other ingredients; simmer just until the leaves wilt, about 1 minute.