Sukiyaki is a Japanese style stew which roast and simmer sliced meat and vegetables in a shallow iron pot. The word “yaki” means roast. The soup basically uses soy source, and sugar. Normally, the ingredients for sukiyaki are sliced beaf, green onion, roasted tofu, shiitake mushroom, and string konnyaku. After the ingredients are cooked, people dip them into raw egg and eat.
Eating beef was not common until the end of Edo period (1603-1867), but the cuisine sukiyaki was already written in cooking books from the early 1800’s. The word “suki” means metal spade, and farmers cooked meat such as chicken, whale, and fishes on the hot spade. It is believed that the word “suki” for sukiyaki comes from this way of cooking meat.
The word sukiyaki was first used in the Kansai region (Western Japan,) and the style in that region is to roast beef and season with sugar and soy source. Only after the great Kanto earthquake in the 1923, sukiyaki using soup became popular.
The style of sukiyaki vary depending on each region. In Hokkaido and Tohoku region (Northern Japan,) pork was often used instead of beef because beef was precious and there wasn’t a custom of eating beef. In Kanto region (Eastern Japan,) instead of roasting beef, meat and vegetables are simmered at the same time in a soup using broth, sugar, soy source, and sake.
Sukiyaki is now popular not only in Japan, but also among Western countries. The word sukiyaki became well known in the United States, because the song by Japanese singer Kyu Sakamoto was introduced with the name “sukiyaki.” Even though the original song name and lyrics in Japanese had nothing to do with sukiyaki.