Thursday, July 21, 2011

Gyudon (aka 'Beef Bowl' or Beef on Rice)

Gyudon is a Japanese stewed beef & onion dish served over white rice, better known to many of us here in SoCal as "Beef Bowl." The Yoshinoya chain of beef bowl restaurants are unbitiquitous in LA County, but I haven't seen one since we moved out to SW Riverside County. In fact, the locater on their website shows exactly zero restaurants within a 25 mile radius of the Murrieta/Temecula area. Needless to say, I've been suffering from withdrawal symptoms.

So rather than just daydream about it, I checked out some recipes online and came up with this version. Most recipes call for boiling or stewing the beef & onion slices in a soy-mirin mixture, but I opted to stir fry the onions & beef instead to achieve a richer flavor. Really quite simple to make and, if I say so myself, even better than Yoshinoya's...

2 1/2 - 3 lbs. very thinly sliced beef (sirloin, ribeye  and/or boneless short ribs work great)
2-3 onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup water (or dashi, if you have it=1/2 tsp. dashi powder + 1 cup water)
2 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
2/3 cup mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
1/4 cup sake
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. black pepper
Pickled red ginger (Kizami Shoga) - optional
Shichimi Togarashi (Japanese 7-spice blend) - optional

1. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a large wok over medium heat. Add onions and cook about 8-10 minutes until they are soft and just starting to caramelize. Season with a pinch of salt and add 1 cup of water or dashi.

2. Turn heat up to high and sesame oil to the onions, then add sliced beef. Saute until beef is partially cooked. Add 1/2 cup soy, 2/3 cup mirin, 1/4 cup sake and 1 tbsp. sugar. Turn heat down to medium low and simmer 3-4 minutes or until meat is just done. Stir in 1 tsp. black pepper and turn off heat. Cover and let mixture sit for about 5-10 minutes to let flavors blend.

3. Serve over hot white rice and some pickled red ginger on the side, if desired. The pink pickled ginger is, IMHO, too sweet for this dish. For a little kick, feel free to sprinkle on some Shichimi Togarashi (7-spice blend of chili, orange peel, pepper, seaweed, ginger, yellow & black sesame seeds) or just plain cayenne pepper.

Saute onions in 2 tbsp. of vegetable oil.

After onions have cooked down and started to caramelize, season with a pinch of salt.

Add 1 cup of water or dashi.

Turn heat up to high and add beef.

When beef is partially cooked, add soy, mirin and sugar. Cook for several more minutes until just cooked through.

Season with black pepper.

Check for seasoning and add more soy, mirin, sugar or black pepper, as needed. Turn off heat and let sit 5-10 minutes so flavors can blend.

Red pickled ginger (Kizami Shoga).

Serve over hot white rice. Pickled red ginger and Shichimi Togarashi (Japanese 7-spice blend) are great condiments for this dish.

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