Beef Bowl

From
Shizuo Tsuji, Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art (1980), page 284. Kodansha International.

About the Book

This is the cookbook that brought real Japanese cuisine to the United States, back when Japanese food was rare, exotic, and unknown. Japanese Cooking is comprehensive, precise, and downright encyclopedic. The author, Shizuo Tsuji, is an acclaimed author and scholar, with over 30 books to his name. The cookbook also boasts an introduction by M. F. K. Fisher, and a foreword by Ruth Reichl. That, quite frankly, is about as good as it gets.

What’s the Dish?

A simple dish to prepare, gyu-don is a very popular fast food both in Japan and the United States (Yoshinoya anyone?). There are minimal ingredients, all of which should be available at even the most basic of East Asian markets. If you take the time to cook your rice properly, gyu-don is a quick home run.

Number of Attempts
1

Mistakes
None apparent.

Modifications
None. I was able to find naganegi (long onions), but I imagine it would still be quite good with a plain round onion, which the book lists as an acceptable substitute.

Good Surprises
As I continue to cook through this book, the thing I keep finding myself amazed by is how simplicity leads to very strong flavors — much like with Italian cooking. As I keep saying, Japanese cooking is in the details (as well as the quality of the ingredients).

Bad Surprises
None. Everything went according to plan.

How Was It?

This a very good version of gyu-don. I had never cooked it before, but have eaten various incarnations in Japanese restaurants and food courts. Making great rice, again, is key, and the combination of soy, mirin, and fresh ginger juice really turns this into comfort food.

Would I Make It Again?

Definitely. At most Japanese markets, you’ll even find half-pound packages of sliced beef, made just for such occasions. I would happily throw this together for a quick weeknight dinner. The only real-time constraint is washing the rice, and let it rest in the colander before cooking. But the active cooking time for gyu-don is minimal.


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