One Pound of Beef, Cooked Two Ways
I bought an eighth of a cow last spring so I’ve got lots of little packages of meat in the freezer to use. Some of them aren’t very exciting, like top round steak. I usually slice them thin for use in things like stir frys. And now a little back story: My husband and I used to live in Japan. After college we lived and taught English in a small town on a tiny island called Shodoshima. Consequently, I’m quite fond of Japanese home cooking. And since, like much Asian cooking, the recipes usually call for small amounts of meat, it’s an easy way to use up small packages of beef. I had one package, weighing about a pound, that I used to make dinner on two nights. These recipes are for only 2 servings, but since my kids have small appetites right now they served my whole family.
Niku-Udon (Recipe adapted from Simple & Delicious Japanese Cooking, by Keiko Hayashi)
3c. beef broth*
½T soy sauce
2 portions dry udon noodles
Toasted sesame oil
½lb. thinly sliced beef
1 bunch scallions, sliced into 2″ lengths
2T sake, dry vermouth, or sherry
1T soy sauce
In a small pan, bring broth, ½T soy sauce, and ½T mirin to a boil. Add salt to taste. I like my soup base a little sweeter so I usually add some extra mirin. Cover and keep warm. In a large pot, bring an ample amount of water to a boil. Cook the udon according to packages directions, keeping them a little firm. You don’t want big, squishy noodles like you see in the regfrigerated section of some grocery stores. Drain the noodles in a colander and immediately rinse with cold water. Toss them with a little toasted sesame oil and pile them in two large soup bowls. Place the beef, scallions, sake, and 1T soy sauce in a shallow pan and cook over medium heat until the beef loses its pinkness. Pour the hot broth over the noodles and divide the topping evenly between the two bowls. Serve with shichimi togarashi (a spicy pepper blend). Alternately, you could put a little kimchi in the bowls before adding the broth, which is how we usually like to eat it.
*With a simple soup like this the quality of your broth is really important. I make this using my own homemade beef broth and it is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Traditionally this would be prepared with a dashi stock, which I have done many times and it is good, but the savory beef broth really kicks it up a notch. Japanese noodle houses pride themselves on the quality of their broths, spending days making some of them, so it really is worth the effort to make your own. The nice thing is that it’s not much work and you can do it one time and then freeze the broth in quart jars for later use.
Beef Donburi (Rice bowl)
Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of this before we dug in. I used the recipe from the website www.JustOneCookbook.com, and it is perfect – exactly like I have eaten in restaurants in Japan and here in the States. The only change I made was to use two duck eggs instead of 3 chicken eggs. It was a little on the eggy side, so you might try using just 2 chicken eggs. Gyudon is so yummy because the savory-sweet-salty sauce soaks into the rice below so every bite has lots of flavor. This recipe is a favorite!