No matter the geographical distance that separates me from my family, there is one particular smell that immediately transports my heart back home. It has the kind of haunting ability to overwhelm my palette and mind with memories of the dinner table. My father, a man of limited cooking abilities (grilled cheese sandwiches made with Velveeta tops his repertoire) has one excellent culinary trick up his sleeve–a Japanese comfort dish called sukiyaki. This highly anticipated meal always managed to bring out the glutton in me and would require an entire day of prep work, from going to the market in Japantown, to cutting the vegetables, to allowing the big skillet to heat up for twenty minutes before laying the strips of beef down to sizzle.
It remains my favorite thing to eat yet I refuse to make it myself, because I will surely disappoint my own appetite. I hardly order it in a restaurant, because to me, there’s simply no way to replicate home. When I am home, my dad will often surprise me midday by telling me he’s going out to buy the ingredients. I often commence with a little jive and I know that by making this dish, it is his quintessential display of love for his daughter.
The combination of sweet sauce (Dad always knows to add more than a healthy amount of sugar) that marinates the thin strips of beef and soaks into the perfectly cubed tofu with hot, fluffy rice is a blend of everything that reminds me of priceless moments of the food that feeds my soul. Try out this easy and simple recipe for our family favorite: Beef sukiyaki.
Photo courtesy of Y_Katsuu