Sweet and Savory Sukiyaki with Tofu and Vegetables

Sweet & Savory Sukiyaki with Tofu & Vegetables
Sukiyaki, with its sweet, savory and richly beefy broth despite the tiny amount of beef in it, turns a wide range of vegetables and tofu products into delicious Japanese comfort food. DASH diet followers need to watch for the sugar (just don’t drink the broth!), but otherwise it’s an easy DASH diet dinner item.

Sukiyaki is one of the better known Japanese dishes. Yet, despite its name recognition, sukiyaki doesn’t seem to be a regular on US Japanese restaurant menus these days. Which is kind of a shame, because it’s really tasty, easy and versatile. This sweet and savory sukiyaki with tofu and vegetables makes a tasty Japanese comfort dinner on cold, drizzly winter night.

Sukiyaki in its original form is a hot pot dish. You gather around a simmering shallow cast iron pot on the table, where thinly sliced beef, onions, mushrooms, tofu and other goodies are cooked right there. It’s a fun party dish when you have a group or just for the family. In Japanese homes, sukiyaki is sometimes made in the kitchen and brought out in individual bowls to the table, just like other non-hot pot foods, which is what I’m doing here.

The “soup” base is pretty simple, just a mix of soy sauce, sugar and mirin (a sweet Japanese cooking wine, which can be substituted with sugar). The beef can be, and often is, made the star of the show, but sukiyaki can also be made with just a couple of ounces of beef and a ton of vegetables. To make sure that a rich, beefy essence permeates all the other ingredients, use a cut of beef with a good layer of fat, or nice marbling throughout. I think mine was a brisket.

Other possible items you can use: Various mushrooms (shiitake, maitake, beech/shimeji, enoki, king trumpet, etc.), leeks, shirataki, napa cabbage, komatsuna, chrysanthemum leavescarrots, turnips and even potatoes. Sukiyaki can also be made with pork or chicken. If going vegetarian, I’d use kombu (kelp) to boost the umami in the broth and maybe swap the broiled tofu with a fried tofu to give it a bit more of a bite.

One yellow flag in this sukiyaki dish for DASH diet followers is that it can fill up your daily sugar intake limit . The trick is to not drink the broth. Without the broth, the amount of sugar absorbed in the tofu, vegetables and beef is probably half of what’s used, which makes it a much more reasonable 1/4 serving or so of sugar.

Print Recipe
Sweet and Savory Sukiyaki with Tofu and Vegetables
DASH diet considerations: This sukiyaki tofu and vegetables leverages the typical Asian approach of using meat as seasoning to cut down on the DASH diet servings of meat. The bulk of the protein comes from the tofu, rather than the beef. The dish can be loaded up with a lot of different vegetables, and the sweet, savory and rich broth makes everything taste addictively delicious and comforting.

One yellow flag in this sukiyaki dish for DASH diet followers is its impact on your daily sugar intake. Sukiyaki broth is on the sweet side, and one serving of the sukiyaki does come with ¼-½ serving of sugar. All is not lost, though: You can stay on the low side of the spectrum by not drinking the broth. (This is hard to do--it’s so yummy! Lol.) For this reason, it’s probably better to serve the sukiyaki and rice separately, rather than make it into a sukiyaki don (sukiyaki rice bowl).

DASH diet servings:
2.5 vegetables & fruits
1 meats & fish
2 nuts & beans
¼-½ sweets & sugar
400-500 mg sodium
Prep Time 30 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 30 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place the gobo, daikon and onion in a saucepan and pour water until it comes up to about 80% of the ingredients.
  2. Add the soy sauce, mirin and sugar. Stir, and bring to a boil on medium high heat.
  3. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a medium simmer.
  4. Cook for 12-15 minutes, or until all the ingredients are cooked through.
  5. Turn the heat up to medium high and add the brisket and broiled tofu. Cook for another 5 minutes or so, or until the beef is cooked through and tofu is heated.
  6. Serve with pickled red ginger. If you don’t have it, don’t sweat it, but the pickled ginger does add an awesome acidic tang to this sweet-savory dish.

Pork Miso Soup with Root Vegetables & Shiitake Mushroom

Miso Soup with Pork & Root Vegetables
Pork miso soup with root vegetables (tonjiru) is a classic Japanese soup full of daikon radish, carrot, burdock, sweet potato, shiitake, little bits of pork and more. A perfect vehicle to meet DASH diet’s vegetable goals.

Miso soup is a mainstay of Japanese home cooking. It’s one of my go-to comfort foods. In my DASH diet life, miso soup also serves as a handy dandy tool to balance out some of the more meat- and fat-heavy meals. I made this pork miso soup with root vegetables just for that purpose, and it was so comforting and delicious!

Even better yet, it’s super easy. You may have heard that you need to make a “dashi” broth for your miso soup, or add some dashi powder (which is the easy route I take). Not in this pork miso soup with root vegetables. Thanks to the meaty flavor of the pork and the complex, deeply earthy flavors of the combination of root vegetables and shiitake mushrooms, broth is totally unnecessary. All it takes to build the full flavor of the soup is to simmer the ingredients and dissolve the miso at the end. That’s it! The soup basically makes itself, if that makes sense.

This stew-like miso soup gets better overnight in the fridge. Definitely make more than you’d have in one meal. You might want to add fresh scallions after reheating the leftover soup. They add a nice bright pop to the otherwise earthy, savory soup.

Print Recipe
Pork Miso Soup with Root Vegetables & Shiitake Mushroom
DASH diet considerations: This pork miso soup with root vegetables is a DASH diet winner: It uses very little pork and no fat, yet somehow turns into a robust, deeply satisfying soup that feels like a complete meal with just a plain bowl of rice. Aside from the ones I used, you can use any root vegetables you have on hand, like potatoes, rutabaga, turnips or taro.

Miso does contain a fair amount of sodium, so you don’t want to go overboard. However, the rest of the ingredients provide such a medley of flavors that you really don’t need a ton of miso to make it tasty. Start with 1 tablespoon of miso and add more little by little, if you find it lacking.

DASH diet servings:
3 veggies & fruits
¼ meats & fish
¼ nuts & beans
200-400 mg sodium (depending on the brand and amount of miso you use)
Prep Time 25 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 25 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil on high heat. Add the yam, gobo (burdock root), daikon, carrot and shiitake. Bring it back to a boil on medium high. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium low and simmer until the vegetables are cooked through, about 12-15 minutes.
  2. When the vegetables are done (the thickest pieces should be pierced easily), add the pork belly. Cook until the pork belly is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  3. Dissolve the miso into the liquid. To make sure the miso is completely dissolved, take some of the liquid into a ladle and dissolve the miso in the ladle, then pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Give it a good stir, and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes so the flavors come together.
  4. Add the ginger and ladle the miso soup into serving bowls. Serve with chopped scallion on top.

Hubby, who didn’t grow up eating this stuff, also loves miso soup. I like to think that miso soup has universal appeal. Then again, he’s been eating my miso soup for over a decade now–and he’s only one data point (albeit the most important one for me!). So I’m curious: For those of you who didn’t have a Japanese upbringing, do you find miso soup delicious and comforting? Could it be a part of your regular diet, if not already?