One of the most popular rice bowl dishes in Japan is gyudon -- simmered beef served on top of steamed rice. Gyudon (or beef bowl) is like a comfort food for the Japanese. It can be prepared quickly and it has nutritious ingredients like beef, onion, rice, and sometimes egg. This is a great meal when you have a full schedule until dinner time. If you are tired of ordering in a pizza, think about Gyudon tonight.
Gyudon originated from two other dishes: gyunabe ("beef pot") and sukiyaki, in which thin slices of beef are cooked with vegetables in a pot. Gyunabe is considered the original form of sukiyaki. Gyudon, often prepared with cheaper cuts of beef, is a very popular, quick, and inexpensive lunch that is available in many restaurants in Japan.
This recipe for gyudon uses two ingredients that you may not be familiar with but are basic to Japanese cooking:
- Dashi is an incredibly simple broth, and it forms one of the culinary cornerstones of Japanese cooking. It's made in about 10 minutes with just three ingredients: water, kombu (dried kelp), and bonito fish flakes. The resulting clear broth tastes like the essence of the sea. Dashi can be used to make a fantastic bowl of miso soup, to poach fish or vegetables, or to add savory umami flavor to any number of Japanese dishes.
- Mirin is a common staple used in Japanese cooking. It's a type of rice wine, similar to sake, but with a lower alcohol and higher sugar content. Since the alcohol percentage is low, it easily burns off during cooking. Mirin has a sweet flavor which makes it a nice contrast when used with saltier sauces like soy or tamari. It has a golden to light amber color and a slightly thick consistency.
In Japan, gyudon is sometimes served with a raw egg yolk or onsen tamago (poached egg) in the center of the meat and onion mixture. As raw eggs are not recommended in the U.S., you can try making onsen tamago by pouring beaten eggs into the pan right before serving so that they will be cooked.
- Cut the onion and green onion into thin slices and cut the meat into small pieces.
- Put dashi, soy sauce, sugar, mirin, and sake in a large pan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
- Add onion slices and simmer for a few minutes or until softened.
- Add beef to the pan and simmer for a few minutes.
- Serve hot steamed rice into individual deep rice bowls. Put simmered beef on top of the rice. Top with some benishoga (optional).