Donnez moi le Yakiniku Don


Kawan kawan, I was inspired to prepare yakiniku don for la famiglia after the Pàques vacances simply because I felt like some thing Asian after a week of eating American in NYC.  I lie, of course because we did have Chinese in NYC, not once but 3 times;  we discovered this little Chinese eatery near the hotel where we stayed on 37th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues….but that is another story.

Well, conveniently for me and that yakiniku don, I had a piece of veal steak available in the freezer which I left to defrost a little before slicing the steak into the thin slivers of meat that sits atop a bowl of rice in this Japanese dish.  I learnt that it is better to slice a piece of meat when it is half frozen in order to get the paper thin slivers that some Asian dishes require.

This dish is really easy to prepare.  The only important thing to remember, in my books, is to slice the meat when the steak is half frozen, don’t forget, you heard it from me who heard it from my sister in Singapore who heard it from….  Of course a very sharp meat knife helps in slicing meat that has not been frozen in order to get the very thin slices for this dish but the very best thinly sliced beef comes from a half frozen block.  Did I mention that already?  And if you’ve already got a kitchen stocked in Chinese cooking ingredients, like soya sauce, sesame oil, garlic and ginger, you’re set to go.

Here is what I prepared to cook the meat.

The marinaded meat and the ingredients

I marinaded the meat with soya sauce, sesame oil, mirin and a light sprinkling of sugar since there is already sugar in the mirin. (you can substitute mirin for sherry or chinese cooking wine.  Then in this case, you can add more sugar to the marinade.)  I then stuck it in the fridge for 30 minutes or so to allow the flavours of the marinade to seep into the meat.  I used shallots instead of onions because I like the taste of shallots better and I added slivers of garlic too.  This is optional of course because the original recipe doesn’t require garlic.  I like the taste of garlic as do the girls and the Italian.  Actually, a similar dish to this that has garlic in the meat is bulgoki or bulgogi, the Korean bbq beef dish.  The eggs which I beat before pouring over the cooked meat has been lightly seasoned with a drizzle of sesame oil and soya sauce.  This is how it looks when it has been added to the cooked meat:

Meat with Eggs Added

I am a stickler for 5 fruit and veg a day.  I add vegetables into everything I cook for la Famille because I want the girls to have the habit of eating healthily and to question any dish that does not come accompanied by les légumes.  Hence, the orange looking batons you see in the picture.

Carrots are such versatile vegetables and I assume, like in mine, carrots are a staple in almost all family fridges.  RN likes them crunchy and often munches on carrot sticks whilst “helping” me prepare and cook dinner.  Look, here’s a pic of her showing you the two vegetables that I’ve used for this version, my version, of yakiniku don:

Awwww! And here's what Mummy uesed...

Whenever I prepare carrots for my dishes, I give her bits of carrots to crunch and munch on whilst I slice the rest.  For added crunch, I’ve also added shredded cucumber to this dish that also acts as a garnish.  I shredded the cucumber with this very nifty device that I got at the Kitchen shop near me.  The blade is a ceramic one and very very sharp.  Nasty accidents can happen if one is careless and callous with this device.  The trick to keeping your fingers intact is of course to use the vegetable holder that comes with it or if you are like me, the rebel or rule breaker, who always wants to do things your way, then please just slide the vegetable gently over the blade, not, I repeat, not furiously but gently and chances are that your vegetables will be shredded without your fingers!

Cucumber shredder

The cooking time for this dish was less than 30 minutes.  I started preparing and marinading at 630 pm  (30 minutes to marinade in the fridge and I started the cooking process at 7 10) and by the time I heard the Italian’s key at the front door which is usually around 730, it was time to eat.  I served the meat over rice that I had cooked earlier in the rice cooker.   Doesn’t this look pretty?

The Finished Product

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