Oh dear, yet another Japanese inspired dish…but it’s too nice not to write up. We encountered this in Salt Lake City in the mid 1990’s when Rev. Jerry Hirano, a dear friend and Shinshū Buddhist priest, invited us to the annual Japan festival, organized by the Buddhist Temple that he presides over.
One noodle dish in particular got our attention. It was both simple and marvellous. I’d never tasted such a thing before. I asked Rev. Jerry what it was and he explained;
“Oh, that’s sukiyaki sauce, it’s just a blend of mirin, soy sauce, and sugar. Everyone makes it different, you know. Some like it sweet, others more salty – and some make it with sake too.”
Back at the Zen Center on 1200 South, I began toying with the idea and nonchalantly tossed it through spaghetti (we didn’t have any udon noodles) with a few green onions and a smattering of snow peas. Yum.
It still pops up on our menu from time to time, sometimes through noodles, sometimes through vegetables. Here is one version that you can tinker with.
If you like spaghetti by itself, try throwing seeds, nuts or tofu through it to turn it into a balanced meal.
500 g (1 pound) spaghetti
150 g (2 cups) snow peas
2-3 stems green onions
¼ cup (4 tablespoons) soy sauce
¼ cup (4 tablespoons) mirin (or rice vinegar; or dry white wine; both sweetened with a teaspoon of sugar)
¼ cup (4 tablespoons) water
1 tablespoon sugar
- Cut the snow peas into half diagonally.
- Cut the green onion into thin slices.
- Make the sauce by combining the soy sauce, mirin and sugar and heating it in a small pan until the sugar dissolves.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.
- Drop in the snow peas for 5 seconds, scoop out with a slotted spoon, and set aside.
- Sprinkle the spaghetti into the same pot of boiling water, stir to untangle, return to a boil and cook for about 9 minutes, or follow package directions.
- When done, drain through a colander and rinse with cold water.
- Toss the spaghetti with the sauce, snow peas and green onions.
- Eat on its own, or serve alongside steamed broccoli, carrots and tofu tossed with fresh minced ginger, toasted sesame seeds, and a few tablespoons of sukiyaki sauce.
Tip: For a traditional sukiyaki recipe, simply double the sukiyaki sauce and put it in a big pot on a burner set in the middle of the dining table.
Next to the pot, arrange a nice platter filled with different sorts of mushrooms, dark leafy greens, cabbage, green onions and tofu etc.
Bring the sukiyaki sauce to a boil and simmer the vegetables from the platter directly in the sauce. Divide the vegetables and tofu with some sauce into individual bowls and enjoy.
Put more vegetables, sauce and water into the pot as desired. To finish the meal, stir in fresh udon noodles or vermicelli noodles, simmer until hot and tender, and serve with a little of the sauce.