Hello, I am back after a hiatus to take care of personal matters. I hope you have all been well and taking things in stride. While circumstances continue to look bleak outside, let's focus on creating -- be it art, a hobby, food or drinks -- and caring for ourselves and our loved ones, in order to sustain our minds, hearts...and bellies. For me personally, I find that soup gives me just the right kind of nourishment whenever I feel empty, or sad, or distressed, or contemplative, or contented, or experiencing a mix of these emotions. When I was younger, I used to dislike anything soupy, especially when it was filled with herbs or in porridge form, because I equated it with being sick, thus being fed pungent medicinal brew. However, as I grew up, I started looking for soup on different occasions, be it pho during rainy days, an enormous bowl of kansi to nurse a hangover, double-boiled chicken soup with goji berries when I feel bloated, a bouillabaisse for special moments, a clam chowder, caldeirada de peixe, gumbo or salmorejo to remind me of past travels, laksa or ramen to feel comforted, soup was always a soothing balm best served and enjoyed in the company of friends.
Having soup with hearty ingredients, like noodles, is a big plus. Here's a recipe for beef sukiyaki udon, which may be prepared anytime of the day -- yes, even during breakfast. If in doubt, check out mohinga, a breakfast staple in Myanmar of rice noodles swimming in a thick fish broth. For the beef sukiyaki broth, the quality of beef is important to bring out the soup flavour, so make sure you get good cuts from your preferred butcher or meat supplier.
It's fine to be flexible with this recipe. You can replace udon with other kinds of noodles like glass noodles or vermicelli, whatever you have on hand will do. Other ingredients to layer with the beef include include tofu, scallions, cabbage; shiiitake, shimeji, enoki or a mix of these mushrooms, and even fish balls. Also, you can reduce the measurements if you're preparing this for one or two persons.
Cooking time: 20 minutes
500g thinly sliced beef
600g pre-cooked udon noodles
500g Chinese cabbage, thinly sliced
250g leeks, thinly sliced (cut top greens into thin coins for garnish)
1 pack firm tofu (or fish ball)
50g shiitake mushrooms
100g shimeji mushrooms, stems removed
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
200 grams edamame beans: for side dish
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
For the sukiyaki sauce:
100ml cooking sake
100ml soy sauce
5g dashi stock powder
4 tablespoons brown sugar
280 ml chicken stock
1. Bring a litre of water to boil in a medium saucepan and cook the udon noodles for 2-3 minutes. Gently disentangle the noodles while cooking, then drain well. Meanwhile, combine the cooking sake, soy sauce, sugar, kombu dashi and chicken stock in a measuring jug. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
2. Add vegetable oil to a frying pan or wok and sauté the sliced beef until lightly brown on the outside, about 5-6 minutes. It’s okay to under-cook the beef at this stage, because you will be transferring this into the sukiyaki pot later. Set aside.
3. Pour the sukiyaki sauce mixture into a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add beef, cabbage, mushrooms and bring to a rolling boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 to 8 minutes. Toss in cooked udon.
Meanwhile, fill a medium pot or saucepan with water and cook at medium-high heat until it becomes a rolling boil. Toss in edamame beans and let them boil for about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain water. Transfer edamame in a bowl and sprinkle coarse sea salt on the beans. You can also add some pepper flakes or some togarashi powder and shredded nori.
4. Break all the eggs into a measuring jug. Lightly whisk, and then pour over the sukiyaki ingredients in a circular motion to ensure even coverage. Simmer for another 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat. Use a soup ladle to serve the sukiyaki into individual bowls. Garnish with green leek coins.
Lightly whisk the eggs in a measuring jug or a medium bowl, before pouring over the sukiyaki sauce.