10 to 12 shiitake mushrooms, wiped and trimmed, crosses notched on caps, if very large, cut in half
2 cakes grilled bean curd (yakidofu)** cut into 1 1/2-inch squares as you arrange the platter
1/2 pound shirataki filaments, parboiled for 1 to 2 minutes
12 small pieces wheat gluten (fu), soaked for about 5 minutes, squeezed gently and drained
2 ounces beef suet
3 tablespoons sugar
Several cups water (or half water, half sake)
1/2 cup sake
1/2 cup dark soy sauce
2 pounds sirloin beef, well marbled*
6 green onions, cut diagonally into 1 1/2-inch lengths
1 bunch trefoil, if stalks are very long, cut in half
Cooking at the table: Put the empty sukiyaki pan or large cast-iron skillet over the heat source (or use an electric skillet) at the table. Start to melt suet in the pan over medium heat, using long chopsticks (or a fondue fork) to move it around so the entire pan bottom is well greased. The fat should smoke slightly. Quickly sprinkle about 3 tablespoons of sugar over the bottom and continue moving the fat in the pan (it should not be entirely melted yet.) The sugar will caramelize, turning brown and sticky. At this point, add about 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup sake. There will be some sputtering (but this helps entertain guests). Add sake, stir; add dark soy sauce, stir. Begin the cooking by laying a few slices of beef into the pan. The beef should take about 1 minute to cook. Add more beef, switch to vegetables-including shirataki, tofu and fu-then alternate back to beef. Each diner should put into the pan whatever he or she likes. Add water (or half water/half sake) to the pan occasionally, as the sauce is reduced. The ingredients should not swim in the sauce; the liquid should just keep the pan bottom covered.
Set each place with an individual dipping bowl into which an egg has been broken. This alone is the dipping sauce. (If you serve a whole egg at each place, which is attractive, provide a saucer or some vessel for the empty shells.) Each diner mixes the egg with chopsticks or fork. As with the other nabemono, long-handled fondue forks are best for anyone who is a little shy about using chopsticks, but dinner forks will do in a pinch.
Before eating, dip cooked meat and vegetables into the egg; the thin coating of egg "cooks" on as soon as it is in contact with the hot food. There is no other garnish or relish. To end the meal, serve hot cooked rice, mild pickles, and Japanese tea as a final course. Serve hot sake or cold beer up to rice course.
Suggested Sake: Rich Sake
*Have your butcher cut well-marbled sirloin beef into very thin slices. .
**Buy grilled bean curd (yakidofu) or use any type of bean surd (tofu) available. .