Ah, gyudon. This is one of those recipes that’s so easy it shouldn’t even really be one, but chances are most of my blog readers have never eaten it. I think of it as being a sort of Japanese “brown food” — you know, like American hot shots and burgers and other things that usually arrive with gravy. Comforting, easy, and nothing challenging about making OR eating the stuff. Before we proceed, I should note that the picture above is pretty much entirely wrong, because it shows the way I like to eat my gyudon: soupy. Here’s a more typical looking presentation:
There are, of course, many variations on the basic methods; there’s an entire restaurant chain devoted to gyudon (both in Japan and now in America, too), so you can imagine. But here’s how I make it, with notes on my standard deviations.
Gyudon / 牛丼
- Cooked short-grain white rice — however much you think you might like to eat; 1c uncooked is usually good for us.
- 3c weak dashi; the making of dashi is another topic, but know that I normally cheat and use instant dashi granules, like so:
- 1/2c soy sauce; I prefer Kikkoman from Japan, which comes in big huge bottles at the Japanese grocery store.
- 1/4c mirin, a sweetened rice wine, also from the Japanese market
- 1/2c sake
- 2T sugar
- 1/3lb. beef; pick a cut with some fat.
- 3 onions, sliced
- bunch of green onions, sliced, optional
- beni shoga, the red matchstick shaped pickled ginger, optional
- shichimi togarashi, a Japanese seasoning powder, optional
- kimchi, totally optional because it’s not at all even remotely traditional
Next, the broth. You’ll probably note that I use a lot of broth for this, which is because I like to put lots of broth in my bowl, and then eat the rest as soup the next day. You could probably get away with half the quantity or possibly less. Mix together the dashi, soy, mirin, sake, and sugar, and bring to a simmer on the stove. Meanwhile, slice the onions (for Japanese cooking I almost invariably chop off the poles, cut in half pole to pole, and then make slices pole to pole; it does make an important difference in the texture). Once the broth is simmering, add the onions and let them cook for a few minutes. If you have green onions, use them; they add a lot of flavor. Put them in with the other onions to simmer. If you don’t, as I didn’t, just go on and try not to cry.
Meanwhile, back at HQ, slice your beef as thin as possible. I usually cut across the grain with the knife at about a 30 degree angle from the cutting board, but this was a bad job; it’s much easier if the meat is mostly frozen, and this wasn’t at all, plus I am a Bad Knife Owner and must sharpen. You want yours as thin as you can possibly get it. You can buy it pre-sliced at Asian markets, usually. Note: I also like gyudon made with ground beef, so there’s always that possibility, too!
Add the beef to the simmering onions, and simmer about another 5-10 minutes, or until you’re ready to eat.
Place a nice helping of your cooked rice into a bowl, then top with beef, onions, and some of the broth if you like. Ideally at this point you’ll also add a little beni shoga, and sprinkle with shichimi togarashi. If you have just moved and forgotten half your ingredients elsewhere, you can eat it plain, or top with kimchi or takuan or really anything at all.
I keep the leftover broth, and the next day mix an egg together then place it in the boiling broth to cook. I eat it on top of rice — bonus! Two meals for the price of one!
Please let me know if you try this. It’s really good, and if you (or your kids) like teriyaki there’s a good chance this will become a favorite, as well.