Gyudon has got to be one of the quintessential Mama-meals in Japan: It's basically very thinly sliced beef simmered with plenty of sweet onions, soy sauce, mirin, and that's about it. When we first arrived in Japan in 2001 and I was overwhelmed as a new wife and gaijin to boot, I bought packet gyudon that you could just pour over some rice. It was OK but is nothing like the real thing, baby!
For Harumi's special dish (from Harumi's Japanese Cooking), you'll need:
- 500 g (a little over a pound) onions
- 200 ml (1 c.) white wine (I use Chinese "rice cooking wine")
- 100 ml (1/2 c.) water
- 500 g thinly sliced beef (I get my favorite butcher at Better Meat to slice it for me)
- 150 ml (3/4 c.) soy sauce
- 150 ml (3/4 c.) mirin
- 4 T. caster sugar
- 600 g hot cooked rice
- pickled ginger (beni shoga) to taste
(With a window open) cut the onions in half lengthways and then slice into very thin half moons. In a saucepan, boil the water and wine, then add the beef and simmer a few minutes. You'll have to skim the scum from the top every once in a while. Splash in the soy sauce, mirin, and sugar and cover with an otoshi buta (or piece of aluminum foil, cut and folded to fit exactly into the pan, resting on top of the ingredients). (I can't find my own trusty otoshi buta so foil it is for me for the moment!)
Simmer a few more minutes and then add your onions, simmering again till the onions are soft.
Put some rice in each bowl (this makes four servings) and your gyudon on top. Don't forget to add some of the pan juices and also a mound of the reddy-pink pickled ginger.
This is Mama-cooking at its finest and most comforting. Can't you just taste that tender beef with the umami flavors of soy, mirin, and just a hint of sugar-sweetness to round it off?
Okazu. Me likey. I love rice and anything that goes on top is just icing for the ricing.
(And more coming up on the blog this week!)