Is it paradise? We’re in a mushroom wonderland! Today’s recipe is a classic Japanese dish reimagined with braised juicy veggies: a vegan shiitake sukiyaki!
A while ago a reader from our Tumblr page, after seeing this picture we took of our dinner, asked if there was any vegetarian recipe similar to the classic sukiyaki.
In the last few weeks, we’ve been trying new veggie recipes at home, so why not? I decided to challenge myself and make a 100% meatless version of the classic sukiyaki. For this recipe, I followed these essential rules:
- This veggie sukiyashi should feel/be enjoyed the same way as the original one;
- Recipe must not be overdone, it should be important to savor the ingredients;
- Of course, the new dish must taste as good or even better as the original dish! If I had to pick one, either I would choose the veggie version over the beef one or I wouldn’t know which one to order.
Basically that’s how today’s vegan shiitake sukiyaki was born!
First of all, the base for the sukiyaki dish is a classic combination of shōyu, sugar, and mirin.
Naturally, the veggie rendition kept this first principle. To make it tastier, I made a shiitake-infused shōyu to add a flavor boost to the sauce.
The preparation is very simple: for over a day, just leave bunch of dried shiitake seeping in shōyu. The result is a lightly sweeter soy sauce with a strong mushroom fragrance.
I also used large onions slices – when you gently caramelize them before cooking the other ingredients, these will help adding some nice sweetness to the sukiyaki sauce.
In Japan, another common sukiyaki tradition is to savor the ingredients by dipping them in a small bowl with a raw beaten egg, mellowing the flavors with an extra rich coating.
For this recipe, instead of eggs, I used a favorite ingredient of mine: grated nagaimo. This mountain yam has a gooey and sticky texture – when you grate it, nagaimo becomes a paste that clings perfectly to the sukiyaki ingredients.
Finally, meat servings plays a huge part in sukiyaki, as the central ingredient of the dish, and the melted fat acting as a seasoning to the other ingredients.
For this version, I picked large shiitake mushrooms as the main ingredient. These are lightly grilled, then cooked in the sauce until tender. Shiitake mushroom’s meaty texture matches perfectly with the shōyu seasoning.
For extras, I used aburaage, which is a sukiyaki family tradition, Chinese cabbage, mizuna (leftovers from previous dinner), shirataki, and tofu.
I am really happy with the results, I will certainly add this recipe to my nabemono dinner repertoire.
For the shiitake infused shōyu:
- 100ml of shōyu
- 10g of dried shiitake mushrooms
For the sukiyaki:
- 200g of shiitake mushrooms, without the stems
- 1 onion, cut into large slices
- 1 block tofu, cut into large cubes
- Aburaage block, cut into slices
- A bunch of shirataki noodles
- 100g of Chinese cabbage
- 50g of mizuna (Japanese mustard spinach)
- 2tbsp of oil
- ~50ml of shiitake infused shōyu (to taste)
- ~4tbsp of sugar*
- ~25ml of sake*
- ~25ml of mirin*
- Nagaimo (Chinese yam), grated
(*to taste, proportional to the shōyu)
- First, combine the shōyu and the dried shiitake mushrooms – let them infuse the stock for at least a day.
- Set the pan to medium heat, then add oil.
- Add onion slices and grill until lightly charred, turning occasionally.
- Next, add the shiitake with the cap side up and grill.
- Pour shōyu straight to the pan and let it bubble strongly until you feel a caramelized fragrance.
- Arrange the remaining ingredients inside the pan, then sprinkle sugar over.
- Add mirin and sake.
- Finally, put the lid on and let the meal cook until all ingredients are done.
- Meanwhile, grate the nagaimo and season slightly with a drop/few drops of shōyu. Serve it in small bowls for dipping.
- It’s time to serve the hot pot!
Use the largest, plumpest shiitake mushrooms that you can find in the market – they’re the main star of this recipe.
In order to cook this dish, I used a proper sukiyaki iron pot – however, don’t worry if you don’t own one of these, any other large frying pan should do a similar job.
Just like the regular sukiyaki, do not overcrowd the pan while preparing the vegan shiitake sukiyaki. Let room for time and space to let the ingredients cook – you can add the extra ingredient portions after serving everyone at the table, while the guests are savoring the meal.
If you plan to enjoy the dish with a grated nagaimo dip, remember that the yam might tone down the strength of the sauce seasoning – you should probably make it a bit stronger than usual to make the soy sauce’s flavor stick to the gooey mix.
You can finish the feast serving udon noodles as the shime (end of the meal).