Summer is here. The heat is at its worst between noon and early afternoon, the time we usually have lunch. To minimize the suffering, I’ve been cooking meals that require little preparation and even less cooking time. That way, the stove is on for the least amount of time and there’s less chance for heat to get stored inside the house. Yesterday, lunch was gyudon — that delightful Japanese meat and rice meal that takes no more than 15 minutes to make including preparation time. Thin, thin slices of beef (are cut into strips, lightly fried and seasoned with soy sauce, rice wine and dashi.
How thin should the beef slices be? No more than an eighth of an inch. Some groceries and meat shops sell yakiniku-cut and sukiyaki-cut beef with the meat slices neatly arranged in an overlapping fashion in trays. If you can’t find pre-cut beef, choose a tender cut of beef (sirloin, tenderloin, to round, bottom round or rib eye) and ask the butcher to machine slice it for you.
Gyudon: Japanese beef and rice meal
- Cut the beef slices into strips less than half an inch in width.
- Peel and thinly slice the onion.
- Heat two tablespoonfuls of cooking oil in a frying pan and cook the eggs, sunny side up. You can do this one by one, or cook the eggs at the same time. It all depends on how large your frying pan is. When the eggs are done, set aside and keep warm.
- Heat the remaining two tablespoonfuls of cooking oil in the pan. Cook the onion slices over medium-low heat until softened, about three minutes.
- Turn up the heat to high. Add the beef to the onion slices and stir to break up any clumps. Cook just until the meat is no longer pink.
- Pour in the soy sauce, mirin or sake, and dashi. Cook until the sauce is reduced to a few tablespoonfuls.
- Garnish with sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds (or add the garnishes after assembly).
- To assemble the gyudon, ladle cooked rice in bowls. Top with the beef and egg. Spoon some sauce over the beef. Serve at once.