Japanese BBQ From Scratch

After eating a great meat at Umai Sushikanyesterday, today I want to cook a Japanese food from scratch. Since Kobe Beef is way too expensive , I guess I have to settle with buying beef tenderloin. I don't know why but buying beef tenderloin in Yaohan ( Asian grocery store that I frequented ) cost a lot less than if I buy from Save-on foods for example.

Anyway, from Practical Japanese Cooking by Shizuo Tsuji, and I am drawn to his recipe for Gyuniku ami-yaki which translate to Grilled Beef.

I wish when I cook this food I have a table grill, actually the word ami-yaki - literally means "net grilling" - in which meat, fish, or vegetables are grilled on a wire net over a high flame or red-hot coals. In the case of meat, the key point is to sear only the ouside surface, leaving a touch of red inside. Here high-quality, well-marbled cuts have been used, but for a lighter taste, use fillet or leaner cuts of sirloin, or try using this method for chicken, pork (grill well, of course), or duck. Though the beef is served with 2 complementary dressings - a rich sesame sauce and the light, refreshing lemon-soy dipping sauce - it is also wonderful with a good mustard or lemon juice and salt.

If you don't want to bother with making the sauce you can buy them in bottle from the store, they look like this:

But I really strongly suggest that you try to make it from scratch because I have taste both sauce, from the bottle and also the one from this recipe, and I think the one made from scratch has more superior taste than the commercial one. Plus, I don't think they are that hard to make....

Here is the recipe:


Serve 4

1 lb well-marbled sirloin or tenderloin beef
8 fresh shiitake mushrooms, washed and stems removed, or 8 fresh brown mushrooms, washed and trimmed
2 white long onions or 1/2 medium onion
8 small sweet green peppers or 2 bell peppers


7 tbs lemon juice
7 tbs dark soy sauce
5 tbs rice vinegar
5 tsp mirin
1 Tbs Tamari soy sauce
1/4 cup loose bonito flakes (1/6 oz/5 g)
1-inch (2 1.2-cm) length kelp ( konbu )


2 tbs white sesame paste
1 tbs sugar
4 tbs dark soy sauce
1 tbs mirin, alcohol burned off
2 tbs sake, alcohol burned off
3 tbs bonito stock ( dashi )


Make the Lemon-Soy Dipping sauce: Mix together all the ingredients and referate for 24 hrs to allow flavor to fully mature. Strain to clarify.

Combine all the Sesame Dipping Sauce ingredients in a blender and whir to a smooth paste ( or grind sesame paste in a mortar and pestle, then add the remaining ingredients in order and one by one, grinding as you go )

TIPS # 1: if you toast then grind the sesame seeds instead of buying it in a bottle, the sauce will have nuttier flavor. Plus it's cheaper.

Pic: Toasting the sesame seeds to bring out the flavor.

Pic: Grind the sesame seeds into paste using Japanese style mortar.

Pic: Add the rest of the ingredients for the Sesame Dipping Sauce one by one and mix it well.


Slice the beef into 1/4 x 3/4 x 2-inch (1/2 x 2 x 5-cm) strips. Score the mushroom caps with a shallow diamond pattern. Score the long onions and then cut into 1-inch (3-cm) lengths ( or cut the onion into 1/2 inch (1 cm) slices and secure the rings with a toothpick or bamboo skewer). Remove the stems from the sweet green peppers ( or core, seed, and cut the bell peppers into strips).

Grill the vegetables and meat over hot coals (or on a wire net over a hot gas flame ). Grill the meat as desired; grill the vegetables until the surface of each is just tender ( the onion should be slightly translucent). Serve a bowl of each sauce to each diner. Eat the food hot from the grill.

TIPS # 2: If you don't have tamari soy sauce, make a simple, flavored soy sauce instead of the Lemon-Soy Dipping Sauce. Combine 7 tbs dark soy sauce, 1/3 cup sake with alcohol burned off, 7 Tbs lemon juice, 1-inch length kelp, and 1/4 cup loose bonito flakes. Refrigerate for 24 hrs. Strain to clarify.

TIPS # 3 : To burn off alcohol, heat the sake or mirin in a saucepan, ignite, and wait until the flame burns itself out.

NOTE: Tamari (たまり) - Produced mainly in the Chūbu region of Japan, tamari is produced mainly from soybean, with only a small amount of wheat. Consequently, it is much darker in appearance and richer in flavor than koikuchi. It is the "original" Japanese soy sauce, as its recipe is closest to the soy sauce originally introduced to Japan from China. Technically, this variety is known as miso-damari (味噌溜り), as this is the liquid that runs off miso as it matures.

For accompanying this Grilled Meats, I made this wonderful shrimp and avocado on a bed of lettuce salad. To ease the guilt from eating too much red meat maybe?


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