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.

Okonomiyaki Eggs (Fauxkonomiyaki)

Fauxkonomiyaki Ingredients (Flourless Okonomiyaki)Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savory pancake. This is a flourless version that I sometimes make for breakfast. It’s basically cabbage-laden scrambled eggs, but with strategic use of mix-ins and toppings, you can make it taste a lot like okonomiyaki without the weight of the flour and oil. Okonomiyaki eggs would be a good, quick but reasonably healthy dinner option for those of you who are “breakfast for dinner” types. Try it!

Additional toppings include bonito flakes, nori flakes and mayonnaise. You can also mix in chopped scallions, cheese, dried shrimps and/or kimchi for more variation. Did I say this is versatile?

Print Recipe
Okonomiyaki Eggs (Fauxkonomiyaki)
DASH benefits: Okonomiyaki eggs (fauxkonomiyaki) add a full serving of vegetable to breakfast, along with a lean protein from eggs. It does have bacon, but one strip is more than enough to give the okonomiyaki eggs for two a serious savory punch. Go easy on the okonomiyaki sauce, which is pretty sweet.

DASH servings:
1 vegetables & fruits
1.25 meats & eggs
1 fat & oil
0.25 sweets
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Fry the bacon until they start to brown. Add cabbage and cook until slightly softened.
  3. While the bacon and cabbage cook, beat the eggs with milk.
  4. Sprinkle the cabbage with the pickled red ginger and dashi powder, and stir to combine.
  5. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet and scramble.
  6. When the eggs are cooked through, serve with okonomiyaki sauce drizzled on top.

A couple of notes about the Japanese ingredients:

“Red pickled ginger” is this one, not these slightly sweet ones typically seen next to your sushi.

Dashi powder is optional, but its savory, slightly oceanic umami really does make the overall flavor profile of the fauxkonomiyaki. It keeps forever in the pantry, and is a great soup base for miso soup, so investing in a small package might not be a terrible idea. This is a classic brand. In this recipe, you can substitute it with a pinch of salt if you don’t have it on hand.

This is the classic okonomiyaki sauce I use.