We don't usually celebrate Valentine's Day other than exchanging cards...the goofiest and sappiest ones we can find. But since we normally stay in and cook on Saturday nights anyway, we decided to do something special. Correction, Jon decided to do something special - he was in the mood to cook and up for a challenge!
We were brainstorming when I remembered a dish that Jon loves to order in Japanese restaurants, Beef Negimaki, a beef and green onion dish that looks like sushi rolls. There aren't too many recipes out there, so I chose this one from the Epicurious web site for Japanese Beef and Scallion Rolls.
- 12 small scallions, trimmed to 6 inch lengths
- 1 lb piece of flank steak
- 1/4 c sake
- 1/4 c mirin
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- Equipment: meat pounder; kitchen string
Jon followed the recipe, but did make a few modifications for how the meat was to be cut/layered/rolled. His way worked perfectly, and we both think it was easier than the directions in the original recipe. Below is how he did it.
- Prepare scallions: Blanch scallions in a pot of boiling salted water for 45 seconds, then transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Transfer scallions to a paper towel to drain and pat dry.
- Prepare beef: Jon cut the flank steak into three thinner pieces, like this:
- Then he pounded each piece to 1/6 inch thick - pound the beef between pieces of oiled plastic wrap.
- Once pounded, he cut each piece across the grain into two pieces, so we now had a total of six 4-6 inch square pieces (we used 4 of them).
- Place 3 scallions on the end of one piece of beef, and roll with the grain. Secure with kitchen twine.
- Once all pieces of steak have been rolled, put them in the fridge while you make the marinade. The steak can be rolled up to 4 hours in advance.
- Make the marinade: Stir together sake, mirin, soy sauce, and sugar.
- Marinate the beef in the fridge for 15 minutes.
- Heat a heavy skillet over high heat until hot, 1-2 minutes. Add oil, swirling to coat the bottom.
- Lift rolls from the marinade, let excess drip off, and pat dry (Jon didn't pat them dry - he wanted the marinade left on the beef to caramelize), reserving the marinade.
- Add rolls to the pan and cook, turning with tongs, until all sides are browned, about 5-6 min for medium rare. He then transferred the pan to a 375 oven for another 6 min or so, but this isn't necessary if you like your beef medium rare. Remove pan from oven and transfer rolls to a cutting board.
- Place pan the beef cooked in over medium heat on the stove. Add marinade and bring to a boil until slightly syrupy, about 2 minutes.
- Cut off strings and slice rolls crosswise into sushi-sized rolls. Serve with the sauce.
OH. MY. GOD. I expected these beef rolls to be good and was excited to eat them. But I wasn't prepared for just HOW good they were!! I swear they were better than the beef negimaki Jon has ordered in restaurants. The rolls stayed together perfectly and took on the flavor of the scallions, and the sauce was perfectly sweet and syrupy. I don't know how many times during dinner I said "mmmm, good job Jon!!"
Jon said that he will make them again, but has a few notes:
- He will definitely follow his instructions for cutting, not the instructions in the original recipe.
- He would have tied the rolls in three spots each, instead of just near each end, to keep the middle together a bit better (but still, none of them fell apart with only 2 ties.
- He would have cooked them a bit longer in the pan to allow them to brown more and for the marinade left on the meat to caramelize a bit more.
- He also doesn't think he would blanch the scallions as they were a touch soggy for his taste - he prefers them to be firmer and thinks cooking inside the meat would have given them just the right amount of softness and mellowness.
Sides: white rice, roasted veggies (broccoli, red/green/orange pepper, yellow onion, tossed with olive oil and salt and roasted in a 375 degree oven for 12 minutes).
Even with the cutting and pounding, this recipe didn't take that much time. The hardest part was figuring out the best way to cut the meat, but now that he has done it successfully one time, it will be much easier next time (there will be a next time!).
I hope everyone had a delicious Valentine's Day - we certainly did!!
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