I lived in Melbourne in the early 90s and I often used to go to Lygon Street in Carlton for dinner. Lygon Street is known for its Italian food and gelato was often on the menu for dessert. It was a lovely place for dinner with people strolling up and down looking for a place to have dinner, coffee or dessert. The independent bookshop Readings was (and still is) open late every night so after a good meal you could pop in for a browse and nearly always a buy. A perfect way to finish off an evening out.
But I didn’t always have Italian. Just off Lygon Street on a small side street there was a great Japanese restaurant. It was the first place I ever ate raw beef and it was just delicious, marinated in soy and other gorgeous spices. It is a dish that has stuck in my memory even though it is over 20 years since I have been to this restaurant. And because of this dish, other raw beef dishes such as carpaccio have become favourites and I love sushi. Do you have any favourite food memories?
I like Japanese food, I like the clean flavours and the delicacy of the food. But I rarely cook it and I don’t have many recipes for Japanese food. It isn’t as if I am not up for cooking Asian food. I have numerous Thai recipes and they are normally very easy to make. So when this recipe appeared on one of the many food porn sites I browse and it seemed straightforward I add it to the long list of recipes to try. I think the fact that ginger featured prominently in the title of the recipe was what really caught my eye. I just love the taste of ginger and it epitomizes that ‘clean’ taste I associate with Japanese food.
The recipe is available here.
To make this for one I used the following ingredients:
- 140g of beef. I used shop sliced beef stroganoff but if you are slicing up steak yourself, it is easier to get it lovely and thin if it is still slightly frozen – it will defrost as you slice.
- ¼ onion, sliced
- 1 tsp oil
- 1 tsp of ginger, grated
- 1 and ½ tbs of dry sherry (or sake)
- 1 tsp mirin
- ¾ tbs of sugar
- ¾ tbs of soy sauce
- 1 tbs toasted sesame seeds
This is a great recipe and has the added bonus of being so simple to make. It does have some slightly unusual ingredients if you don’t normally cook Japanese food. I had mirin in the cupboard but not sake. I wasn’t going to buy sake just for this recipe – it was too expensive so used dry sherry instead. I have seen on some US sites that people mention small bottles of sake for cooking but I couldn’t find any at my local shops here in Canberra. Dry sherry seems to be the go to ingredient for replacing Asian alcoholic ingredients. I have another recipe I want to try that uses Chinese cooking wine and my friend google recommends replacing it with dry sherry.
In terms of the actual recipe. I couldn’t get my head around the onion chopping instructions. I just sliced the onion the first time I made this and the second time, didn’t read the recipe fully and finely chopped the onion. Either way was delicious. I only cooked the beef and onion for 2 minutes initially rather than the 5 minutes suggested in the recipe. This cooking time will vary depending on how thin you slice the beef and how much beef you are actually cooking. The simmering time was only 5 minutes for me as the smaller amount of sauce reduced fairly quickly. I bought my sesame seeds toasted so didn’t need to do the toasting step. I would always do this as it saves on a pan and I have not had much success with toasting seeds in the past. I always seem to under or over toast.
All up the preparation time is 10 minutes or less if your meat is already sliced. The cooking time for me was only about 10 minutes. On the table in 20 minutes – what I want on a week night. The calories are about 370 per serve.
The beef is initially sweet to taste and then saltiness cuts through that. The first time I made it the beef was a bit chewy so I would err on the side of caution – once you think the beef is cooked, whip it off the stove.