Did you know it takes one day for every hour of time zone change for complete recovery from jet lag? Who the heck has 12 spare days to spare to recover, especially moms!
I just returned from a trip and have had about 3 hours of good sleep in the last 3 days due to jet lag! I need to feel better fast and need some comforting easy to prepare foods to get me back into shape. Comforting Japanese food is just the fix I need to make me feel better quickly.
A little over 2 years ago I lived in Yokohama, Japan. During my time living in Japan, I took cooking lessons from a sweet Japanese Tokyo housewife who taught me all the ins and out about healthy and sustainable Japanese cuisine. Her sweet, gentle ways and “squishy” English made a lasting impression upon me. I was in Japan about a month and was having full-blown culture shock still trying to figure out the trains, learn Nihongo and just get my arms around this new and interesting culture. I think the best way to adapt and obtain acceptance is to learn the local language and learn how to cook their traditional dishes. (This is something that every country is very proud of and are willing to share with you)
It was a cold November day in Tokyo and Yuko-san, demonstrated to us how to make beef sukiyaki. I remember this day very well as I was tired, cold and very distraught ,but looking forward to our cooking session together. In about 15 minutes flat, she had made and served a delicious pot of sukiyaki. From the first bite, something inside of me changed as the warm satisfying beef, vegetables and noodles warmed my soul. This dish to me is something much more than a comfort dish, it is a dish of acceptance and finally feeling nourished from the inside out. On this very day, there was no longer the superficial “konnichi wa” and polite bow but a true feeling of connection. So on these very days when I am feeling cold, tired and can hardly keep my eyes open to function in the kitchen, the pure and healthy warming ingredients of a beef sukiyaki is sure to please.
Beef Sukiyaki (Serves 4 adults or 2 hungry teenagers)
Recipe adapted from Yuko-san (Japanese friend and cook)
- 12 oz of Sukiyaki beef thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1/2 cup mirin (Mirin is Japanese sweet wine. As a substitute, you can just use dry sherry or sweet marsala. Or you can dissolve a small amount of sugar in a little white wine or sherry)
- 1/2 cup sake
- 1/3 cup soy sauce (tamari for gluten free)
- 1/4 cup sugar or low glycemic sugar alternative
- 8 oz firm tofu diced (optional)
- 2 cups cabbage, cut into 2 inch pieces (You can use Nappa Cabbage but all I could find today at the grocery store was Chinese cabbage)
- 12 fresh shitake mushrooms (soaked and cut into a diagonal slice both horizontal and perpendicular to make a flower shape- just for decoration)
- 1 scallion cut in slices (I used a japanese leek)
- 1/2 cup Dashi (dashi is a soup stock made with Kombu kelp, soya sauce, mirin or sake, a touch of sugar and bonito flakes. Any simple beef broth with soy sauce and sugar is fine, not a substitute, but a close second, if you want the fish flavour, you can add a touch of Thai fish sauce, but that is not necessary).
- 1 bunch Enoki mushrooms
- 2 bunches chrysanthemum leaves (optional, difficult to find outside of Japan)
- 1 pack per person of udon noodles (soaked in hot water and drained and set in individual bowls just before serving)
Step 2: In a small bowl combine the following items; mirin, sake, soy sauce, sugar and pour over beef.
Step 3: Add in small increments add some of the tofu, cabbage, shitake mushrooms, and scallions
Step 4: Add the dashi and bring to a boil(I purchased dried dashi packets and this must be mixed with water before adding to the mixture.)
Step 5: Add some of the enoki mushrooms, chrysanthemum leaves and cook just until the leaves start to wilt.
Step 6: Ladel beef and vegetables and broth over the udon noodles and serve at table.
Step 7: Add more of the vegetables and mushrooms a little at a time and cook to serve as people help themselves to the sukiyaki. (Purpose of cooking just a little at time is to keep the items fresh and not overcooked)
Step 8: Eat sukiyaki with chop sticks and make sure you slurp your noodles as in Japan this is a complement to the chef. (To really enjoy noodles while they are hot, one must slurp them in while take a cooling intake of breath. Go ahead and give it a try).