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Eric Akis: A Japanese steakhouse dinner, minus the show

Seared and sliced steak, vegetables and mushrooms flavoured with teriyaki sauce, ginger, garlic and sesame oil are served with steamed rice or fresh udon noodles.
Japanese-style seared, sliced steak, vegetables and mushrooms are coated in an umami-rich sauce. ERIC AKIS

A modest amount of meat, combined in a flavourful way with a generous amount of vegetables, is how many Asian-style dishes are constructed. This is the approach I took in my recipe for Japanese steakhouse-style beef and greens, which serves two.

The meat I used for it was a 250 gram top sirloin beef steak, meaning each serving would be 125 grams, or about four ounces. Top sirloin is a cut more moderately priced than other tender types of steak, such as strip loin and rib eye.

I called it Japanese steakhouse-style beef and greens, because the steak is seared, cut and then combined with cooked vegetables, sauced and served —something you’ll see done in Japanese restaurants where some of the dishes served are prepared by the chef on a large hot grill right in front of the customers.

I did not use a grill for my recipe, though; I used a heavy cast iron skillet, which acted like one. To prepare the steak, I seasoned and then seared it in a little bit of hot oil until rare to medium-rare in doneness. The steak was set on a cutting board, I let it rest a few minutes, and then I cut it into thin slices.

Before slicing the steak, I closely looked it and was able to see distinct lines (grains) running through the meat. When I sliced the steak, I cut against those grains. If I sliced in the same direction as those lines, when eating the sliced steak I’d have to bite through stringy fibre.

To finish the dish, I set the skillet the steak was seared in back over the heat. Sliced mushrooms, sliced onions and a mix of chopped green vegetables, such as cabbage, bell pepper and celery, were added to it and cooked and stirred until lightly charred. Some water was added, and as it simmered and evaporated away the vegetables brightened in colour and became just tender.

The sliced steak, some green onions and a teriyaki sauce mixture were then added to the cooked mushrooms and vegetables. Everything was cooked a short while longer, until the steak was warm again and the sauce had lightly thickened, creating a umami rich dish that, when served with rice or noodles, yields a very satisfying meal.

Japanese Steakhouse-style Beef and Greens

Seared, sliced, tender steak, vegetables and mushrooms flavoured with teriyaki sauce, ginger, garlic and sesame oil. Serve with steamed rice or fresh udon noodles. Have all the ingredients chopped and ready before preparing this quick-cooking dish.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 11 to 15 minutes

Makes: two servings

1 (about 250 gram) top sirloin steak or other tender steak

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tsp vegetable oil

1/4 cup teriyaki sauce (see Note)

1/3 cup no-salt or low sodium beef stock

1 tsp finely chopped ginger, or 1/4 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp minced fresh garlic, or 1/4 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp sesame oil

1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup cubed green bell pepper

1 medium celery rib, thinly sliced widthwise on the bias

1 cup chopped green cabbage

6 small to medium white or brown mushrooms, sliced

1/4 cup water

1 large, or 2 medium, green onions, cut, width wise, into 2-inch pieces

1 to 2 tsp roasted sesame seeds (optional; see Note)

Pat steak dry with paper towel; season with salt and pepper. Place oil in a 10-inch cast iron or other large heavy skillet set over medium-high heat. When oil is very hot, add steak and sear to the desired doneness, allowing about three minutes per side for rare, and three to four minutes for medium rare. Transfer steak to a cutting board and let rest a few minutes. thinly slice the steak against the grain and set it aside.

Combine teriyaki sauce, stock, ginger, cornstarch and sesame oil in a small bowl. Set the skillet you seared the steak in back over medium-high heat. (No need to add any more oil to it.) Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, cabbage and mushrooms and stir-fry until lightly charred, about three to four minutes. Add the water, cook and stir until it’s evaporated and the vegetables become just tender, about one to two minutes.

Give the teriyaki sauce mixture another stir and then add it, and the sliced steak and green onions, to the skillet. Bring teriyaki sauce mixture to a simmer and cook and stir until it lightly thickens and the meat is hot again, about one to two minutes. Sprinkle everything with roasted sesame seeds, if using, and serve.

Note: Teriyaki sauce and roasted sesame seeds are sold in the Asian foods aisle of supermarkets. Kikkoman brand teriyaki sauce was used in this recipe. If you want to roast (toast) your own sesame seeds, place regular sesame seeds in a non-stick skillet set over medium heat. Cook the seeds, swirling the pan from time to time, until lightly toasted, about three to four minutes.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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