Prepared with thinly sliced beef which has been marinated to flavour and tenderize, Japanese Beef and Sprouts is wonderfully delicious when served over steamed rice. Add more flavour with toasted sesame seeds and a burst of freshness with sliced green onions!
There is something really comforting and homey about a beef dish paired with rice. Growing up, it was a very common pairing in our home. My mom would often prepare BBQ Beef and serve it with rice. Sometimes, she would prepare chicken instead of the beef, like these Sweet & Sticky Drumsticks. Those too, would be served with rice. Like I said, it’s comforting, so my Japanese Beef and Sprouts is piled onto a bowl of plain basmati rice.
Of course you can serve this dish with any rice you prefer. In our home, basmati is a favourite, so I use it quite often. Whenever I don’t have basmati on hand, I always turn to just plain white or plain brown rice. When a dish is as flavourful as this beef, the rice doesn’t need to be seasoned. I just cook the rice in slightly salted water and let the beef do the rest!
When it comes to a recipe like this one, the most important thing is the taste. But, I also like to share recipes that are easy and affordable. This particular recipe has it all. It’s fast too and very family friendly. The leftovers heat up very well too, which makes for a great lunch at work the next day! Oh, I should mention that a more common name for this recipe is teppanyaki.
LET’S TALK ABOUT MARINATING
When it comes to marinating beef, some of us think that it’s okay to marinate it all day or even overnight. That might work for some marinades, but not all. Let me explain.
If you’re using a marinade that has acidity in it, then I would not marinate longer than two hours. The acid will react with the enzymes in the beef and actually toughen it. Since this particular marinade has next to no acidity, it’s safer to marinate the beef for a longer period of time.
My favourite marinades for chicken always uses buttermilk. Buttermilk helps to make for a more tender chicken dish. The acidity of the buttermilk will break down protein structures in the chicken, and helps it to retain moisture a whole lot better. But, my favourite marinade for beef is always olive oil based. The olive oil has the unique ability to pull the flavours from the other marinade ingredients and infuse them right into the beef.
Therefore, a marinade consisting of more mellow ingredients, like a mixture of olive oil, garlic, onion, and herbs, etc., would allow for a longer marinating time. For this particular marinade, I would highly recommend you allow the beef to marinate for at least one hour. But, to get the best results, try marinating your beef for 12 hours or overnight.
HERE’S WHAT YOU WILL NEED:
- Flank Steak – When it comes to cooking steak fast, while maintaining lots of moistness and tenderness, flank steak is the way to go! Check out Ottawa Valley Meats for the best flank steak!
- Rice Vinegar – This helps to tenderize and flavour the steak.
- Mirin – This is a staple in Japanese kitchens. Much like sake, but has more sugar and a lower alcohol content.
- Garlic – Freshly minced garlic is best. You will get more flavour.
- Sugar – This adds just a bit of sweetness and helps to offset the saltiness of the soy sauce.
- Soy Sauce – As a rule, we use low-sodium soy sauce. You can use regular soy sauce too, but if you do, cut back the salt to just a 1/4 teaspoon.
- Ground Black Pepper – Lots of it! Beef dishes love to be generously seasoned with this warming spice.
- Olive Oil – Any frying oil will do.
- Bean Sprouts – Wash and spin the sprouts dry in a salad spinner. You don’t want to add any additional moisture to the pan.
- Sesame Seeds – I use toasted sesame seeds for flavour and texture.
- Green Onions – These add freshness and flavour. Plus, the dish is rather brown, so the pop of green is beautiful!
MORE BEEF OPTIONS
If you don’t care for flank steak or would just prefer to use a different cut, you have other options. The first option would be skirt steak. Flank steak and skirt steak are both elongated cuts of beef. Sometimes, it’s difficult to tell the difference between the two. Flank steaks take to marinades very well, and some marinades can help to tenderize the meat. High heat and quick cooking is the best way to cook flank steak.
Skirt steaks take well to marinades too. The beefy flavour is more predominant in a skirt steak, but it is often more expensive. To be honest, I use the two interchangeably. You can also use a sirloin tip steak or roast. Like flank and skirt steaks, the sirloin tip has lots of marbling and when thinly sliced, cooks up quite nicely. This might be a better option for a larger family, or if you are doubling the recipe.
OTTAWA VALLEY MEATS
If you are in Ontario, be sure to look into Ottawa Valley Meats to see if they deliver to your area. They offer seafood, poultry, and pork too. And, they deliver right to your door! I have had other suppliers deliver meat and seafood, but Ottawa Valley Meats were the best! It comes in a freezer-refrigerated truck, which means the box doesn’t need to be stuffed with ice packs or dry ice. And, the food doesn’t need to be packaged into those silver cooler bags. Do you know what that means for me? Less waste!
HOW TO MAKE JAPANESE BEEF AND SPROUTS
The first thing you want to do is to get the beef into the marinade. The beef needs to marinate for at least one hour. If you have more time, you can leave it in the marinade longer, but no more than 12 hours. The acidity of the vinegar and mirin will break the enzymes in the meat down too much and you might be left with mush. So, whisk all of the marinade ingredients together and add in the sliced beef. Get in there with your hands and make sure each piece of beef is well coated. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.
When you’re ready to cook, add about half tablespoon of the olive oil to a large skillet. Fry the beef in batches and in a single layer. Once the first batch is nicely browned, transfer to a plate and fry the next batch. You may need to add a bit of olive oil after each batch. The skillet will look like it needs to be cleaned between each batch of beef, but do not clean it. Those bits in the pan are flavour!
When all of the beef is cooked, pour the remaining marinade into the skillet. Use a wooden spoon to gently scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. This is called deglazing, which usually involves wine, but wine is not needed for this recipe. Once the bottom of the pan looks clean again, add the cooked beef back into the skillet and cook for 2 minutes to re-heat the beef.
Add the bean sprouts and toss to combine. Next, add the toasted sesame seeds and half of the green onions. Toss well to combine and turn off the heat. Serve over rice immediately and garnish with more toasted sesame seeds and sliced green onions.
HOW TO TOAST SESAME SEEDS
To be perfectly honest, this applies to any nuts or seeds, not just sesame seeds. If you are not familiar with toasted sesame seeds, then please try it just once. You will probably never revert to using untoasted sesame seeds in your cooking or baking again! I have tried using non-stick frying pans for toasting, but nothing works as well as a stainless steel pan. You could use a cast iron pan, but since they get very hot and retain heat so well, it’s easier to burn the seeds.
See the frying pan in this picture? That’s the exact one that I use all the time. I’m not suggesting you run out and buy this same cookware set, but I wanted you to see the pan – remember, do not use non-stick if possible. You’ll get better results with plain stainless steel.
So, unlike most cooking where you’re required to preheat first, you don’t want to apply that same rule to toasting seeds. Add the seeds to a cold pan. Place the pan on the burner and turn the heat on – no higher than medium and probably even less if using a gas burner.
Keep the seeds moving about. I use a rubber spatula. Once you start to smell that warm and toasty aromatic smell, pay close attention. The seeds will take on a slightly golden colour. Don’t let them get too dark. Once you’re satisfied, immediately remove them from the hot pan and transfer them to a dinner plate where they can be spread out to cool.
PERFECTLY SLICED BEEF
When preparing the steak for this Japanese Beef and Sprouts recipe, you should have one goal. That goal is simple, but it might seem rather difficult to achieve. I’m going to help you reach that goal with minimal effort. Are you ready?
The goal is to have the most tender, most moist, most flavourful steak. To get that, you will need to do two things. One of those things is to marinate the steak for at least one hour. That’s not a surprise though, right? Everyone knows that marinated steak is the best. The second thing you will need to do is to slice the steak as thinly as possible. Well, not paper thin, but as close to 1/8th of an inch as you can get it.
If you have ever tried to slice steak very thinly before, you know that it can be frustrating. It’s soft and it moves around when you push your knife into it. It’s no fun at all! What if I told you that I have a secret to getting the most uniform thinly sliced steak without the use of a meat slicer? Well, I do, and I’m going to share that secret with you.
Wrap the steak in plastic wrap and place it in the freezer. Be sure the steak is laying flat. Allow it to freeze for one hour. Don’t worry, the steak won’t be frozen rock hard. But, it will be firm and when it’s firm, that’s when you want to slice it. It’s so much easier to do and you can get those uniform slices with ease.
Japanese Beef and Sprouts
- 2 pounds flank steak, cut into 1/8 inch thick slices
- 6 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cups beans sprouts, washed and dried
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 cup green onions, sliced
- In a bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, mirin, garlic, sugar, and black ground pepper. Add in the sliced beef. Coat the beef well in the marinade mixture. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.
- When ready to cook, add half tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet. Fry the beef in batches and in a single layer. Once the first batch is nicely browned, transfer to a plate and fry the next batch. You may need to add a bit of olive oil after each batch. The skillet will look like it needs to be cleaned between each batch of beef, but do not clean it. Those bits in the pan are flavour!
- When all of the beef is cooked, pour the remaining marinade into the skillet. Use a wooden spoon to gently scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. This is called deglazing, which usually involves wine, but it’s not needed for this recipe. Once the bottom of the pan looks clean again, add the cooked beef back into the skillet and cook for 2 minutes to re-heat the beef.
- Add the bean sprouts and toss to combine.
- Next, add the toasted sesame seeds and half of the green onions. Toss well to combine and turn off the heat.
- Serve over rice immediately and garnish with more toasted sesame seeds and sliced green onions.