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2016.05.19

Mystery hunt of Japanese food SUKIYAKI (3)

Mystery hunt of Japanese food SUKIYAKI (3)

Relation between sukiyaki and eggs

Sukiyaki is full of mysteries. We eat it with a raw, beaten egg without considering any other options. In fact, the origin of eating sukiyaki with raw egg is one of its many mysteries. No documents clarifying this eating practice have been found.

 

Momonjiya in Ryogoku, a restaurant specializing in Inoshishinabe (Japanese boar meat hot pot ), does not serve sukiyaki with a raw, beaten egg. Komagata dozeu and Dozeu Iidaya, Japanese loach hot pot restaurants in Asakusa, also do not serve the dish with a raw, beaten egg. From these cases, we can surmise that in the Edo era (1600–1867), hot pots were not eaten with raw, beaten eggs. Sometime in the Meiji era, someone somewhere began the practice of eating Sukiyaki with eggs. However, no record of this exists. Then, why do we eat sukiyaki with raw eggs?

There are two possible reasons:

 

1) to cool down the food in hot pots before eating and

2) to make the flavor milder.

 

If the purpose was only cooling down the dish before eating, only eggs need not have been used. Thus, it is plausible that eggs were chosen to make the sweet and salty flavor milder.Eggs are highly nutritious; furthermore, eggs and beef were both very expensive 130 years ago. Therefore, eating beef and eggs together was very luxurious and lavish. People must have been excited to have such a lavish meal, just like we feel superior and extravagant when having extravagant meals today. During the time of civilization and enlightenment circa 1867, eating gyunabe, later known as sukiyaki, was popular and fashionable. Who started this practice or when and where it began is unknown, but it must have been the right time. People must have enjoyed the dish and been amused when eating eggs and beef together.

 

The fascination surrounding sukiyaki comes more from the delicious taste of beef than the mystery regarding its origins. When it is heated, Japanese beef has a unique, sweet aroma, called wagyuko, similar to peaches or coconuts. Organic compounds called lactone are volatized from the beef when it is cooked between 80 and 100 °C. To enjoy the umami and the delicious aroma of beef to the fullest, it should not be cooked above 100 °C. The temperature of charcoal fire, which is used for yakiniku, is about 500 °C, and when you blow wind into it, it rises to about 1,000 °C. Cooking at high temperatures and in infrared produces delicious results; however, to enjoy the aroma of wagyuko, sukiyaki is the most suitable.

 

(Text:Rikaco ichikawa)

すき焼きと卵の関係

謎が多いすき焼き。当たり前のように溶き卵をつけて食べていますが、その起源もまた謎の一つ。いつどこでそのような食べ方をするようになったか、明確にするような文献は見つかっていないのです。
両国の「ももんじや」さんの猪鍋にも卵はついてきません。浅草の「駒形どぜう」さんでも「どぜう飯田屋」さんでも鍋に卵はついていなかったので、江戸時代の鍋に卵はついていたかったのだろうと考えられます。明治時なになって、どこかで誰かが卵をつけたのでしょう。そのことをハッキリさせるような文献はみつかっていません。
では、なぜ卵を着けるのか、何のためなのか、考えられる理由は2つ。

 

1)温度を下げるため
2)味をマイルドにするため

 

ただ、食べやすい温度に下げるためなら、卵である必要はないため、すき焼きの甘辛い味をマイルドにするためだと思われます。当時、卵は栄養価も高く、貴重な食材でした。牛肉も同じように貴重で、そのような貴重な食材を一緒に食べるということはとても贅沢なことです。人々はこのような贅沢なことに興奮したのではないでしょうか? 贅沢な食事をして背徳感と優越感に満たされる気持ち。現代でもありますよね。

 

文明開化のさなかの牛鍋を食べることが最先端で粋だった。どこの誰かが始めたというよりか、時代の機運だったのではないでしょうか?当時の人達も生卵と牛肉を食べてたまらなく贅沢な気持ちに満たされてたのかもしれませんね。

 

すき焼きの最大の魅力は、謎の多さではなく、やはり牛肉の旨味です。和牛香といわれる和牛独自の良い香りは、100度以下、約80度で調理すると牛肉から揮発される「ラクトン類」という有機化合物。これが桃やココナッツといった果物の好ましい香りを感じさせます。牛肉を最大限に美味しく食べるには100度を越えないこと、加熱しすぎないこと。焼き肉に使用する炭火は置いておくと500度、風を送ると1000度まで上がります。高火力と赤外線で調理する肉も美味しいですが、和牛肉の香りを心行くまで満喫するには、約80度で牛肉を煮る、すき焼きが適していますよ。