I find little charm in fondue. In fact, my idea of Hell is dinner at Melting Pot followed by a Two and a Half Men marathon. I do, however, love one-pot meals and communal dining. I think it’s good for people to be engaged with the food they’re eating. To a simmering pot of coagulated Swiss cheese, I prefer something like sukiyaki. My Japanese is a little rusty, but I’m pretty sure “sukiyaki” means “crazy delicious drinky drinky time.” Or something like that. Here’s more info if you must know.
Sukiyaki is part of the broader Japanese tradition of nabemono, or one-pot meals. My father-in-law, who’s the most Asian non-Asian I know, passed down this tradition, and it’s a guaranteed good time. You’ll need a cast iron skillet (an essential kitchen implement), electric burner (not so essential, but pretty darn handy), and table (you really should get one at some point in your life).
Buy ingredients at your favorite Asian grocery store. Most ingredients will be half the price you’d find at your Occidental grocery store, and it’s a far more interesting shopping experience. I like Oriental Supermarket in Overland Park because it’s five minutes from my house and has pre-sliced ribeye for $6/lb (next stop, cheesesteak city). But I also like 888 farther south. Its enormity can be overwhelming, but I like seeing fish killed to order.
2 lb. thinly sliced beef ribeye (frozen section at Asian grocer)
1 lb. shirataki noodles
1 lb. extra firm tofu
1 lb. shiitake mushrooms
4 oz. enoki mushrooms
1 large leek
1/2 lb. spinach
1 c. water
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. mirin
1/4 c. sake
2 Tbsp. sugar
4 servings steamed white rice
1 tsp. canola oil
Boil shirataki noodles for two minutes, rinse under cold water. Cut tofu into medium cubes. De-stem shiitake mushrooms and cut in half. Take enokis out of bag. Cut leeks into two inch strips, wash, dry. Wash, dry spinach. Arrange all vegetable on platters.
Mix water, soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar.
Place cast iron skillet over electric burner in middle of table. Heat on medium.
Each diner gets a bowl of steamed white rice, a beaten egg, and chopsticks. Before dinner, do at least one sake bomb. Two if you want the full experience.
Pour canola oil into pan. Sear four or five strips of beef. When brown, add mix of vegetables and sauce mixture. Pluck food as it cooks. Dip in egg, hold over rice bowl, put in mouth. Chew. Repeat.
Add vegetables, beef, and sauce as needed. Eat until you are full. And then eat for five more minutes. Concluding sake bomb and you’re done. Leftovers are delicious, but you won’t have any.