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50 years of soup: Tacoma Buddhist Temple serves sukiyaki to the public this Sunday

Post by Sue Kidd / The News Tribune on Feb. 28, 2012 at 5:35 pm | No Comments »
February 28, 2012 5:35 pm
The sukiyaki cooking booth at the 1965 dinner at the Tacoma Buddhist Temple.

Only the hairstyles have changed since the Tacoma Buddhist Temple’s first sukiyaki dinner. The recipes, the cooks, the servers, and even the cooking utensils are just as they were when the temple started the community fundraiser dinner in 1962. The 50th annual dinner is this Sunday (March 4, 2012) at the temple.

A sukiyaki dinner is a one-pot meal, a mixture of thinly-sliced beef, saifun noodles, bits of tofu and crunchy vegetables simmered in a homemade beef broth. It’s a dish not often found on menus here. The dinners are cooked to order in pans that date back 50 years – the temple’s minister at the time, Rev. Sadamaro Ouchi, bought the aluminum pans specifically for the dinner. Those pans still are in service, along with other pans they’ve purchased over the years.

The recipe remains the same. It was handed down to temple cooks from late temple member Martha Yoshioka.

Dinner preparations begin this Friday when men from the temple will gather and cut beef bones for the base of the broth, said Kats Fujita, who was the dinners’ first co-chair in 1962 with husband Hiroshi “Fudge” Fujita. Both will volunteer at this weekend’s dinner – Fudge will act as an usher and Kats will be in the kitchen. The broth pots are heavy and the bones are mighty – the broth simmers for several hours Friday, then it’s cooled and stored in the temple’s cooler.

The broth then is seasoned on Saturday, the same day that the rest of the meal is prepped by volunteers. They’ll spend most of Saturday chopping onions, celery and other vegetables, and prepping the meats on the menu for Sunday’s dinner. The featured item at the seated dinner will be sukiyaki, but also available for table ordering will be chicken teriyaki, beef teriyaki kebabs, mochi ice cream, rice and drinks. Cost per item is $1-$11. The dinner takes place inside the temple’s hall.

Kats said the temple expects to serve at least 500-600, which is about half as many diners that would attend in past years when the event spanned two days. Temple volunteers trimmed the event to one day because they needed to reduce the manpower required to prep and serve the dinner.

The event raises money for the temple’s programs and maintenance costs. The temple also hosts a fall bazaar to raise money.

Tacoma Buddhist Temple’s 50th annual Sukiyaki Dinner
Where: Tacoma Buddhist Temple, 1717 S. Fawcett Ave., Tacoma
When: 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday, March 4, 2012
Cost: The event is free, dinner items cost $1-$11.
Information: tacomabt.org

Our pledge to readers: Sue Kidd dines anonymously and all meals are paid for by The News Tribune. Reach her at 253-597-8270 or sue.kidd@thenewstribune.com.

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