Sukiyaki is a nabe dish (hot pot dish). Sukiyaki is made in a hot pot by cooking beef, soybean curd, long green onion, and other vegetables with a salty-sweet sauce.

Sukiyaki is one of the most popular nabe dishes that Japanese people eat at home. It is fair to say that the dish is somewhat a luxury reserved for special occasions to celebrate a success or payday. It is said that in the past, fish and soybean curd was cooked on a suki (spade, an agricultural tool, hence the name of sukiyaki.) In those days, sukiyaki used to be like what is now called teppan-yaki (grilled dish made on an iron or hot plate at the table). You can find traces of that older method in the current Kansai style of sukiyaki.

Meat eating became more popular in the period from the end of Edo era to Meiji era. It developed from gyu-nabe (beef pot), which was a symbol of Japanese Westernization, and became more commonplace among regular people.

How sukiyaki is cooked slightly differs between the Kansai and Kanto regions. In the Kanto style, beef and vegetables are simultaneously simmered in a “warishita” sauce prepared with sweet cooking rice wine, soy-sauce, sake (rice-wine), sugar, etc. In the Kansai style, the beef is first cooked, and then sugar and soy sauce are added to taste. Next, vegetables are added, but warishita sauce is not added. When simmered down, sake or water is added to taste. This is a bit different from the Kanto style. In both the Kansai and the Kanto regions, it is common to dip beef and vegetables in beaten eggs when eating.

However, dipping into beaten eggs used to be a custom only in Kansai. It was their wisdom not to get burnt when eating hot food.

Today, sukiyaki is well known throughout the world as a typical Japanese dish as well as sushi and tempura.


Kansai style of cooking sukiyaki