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Gyu Donburi (Sweet Simmered Beef and Onion Over Rice)

Gyu refers to beef. Don is short for donburi which is a large rice bowl. So Gyudon literally is “Beef Bowl.” Thinly sliced beef, onion and other ad-libbed goodies, are cooked in sweet soy sauce and then enjoyed on top of some delicious Japanese short grain rice.

When you make this, you want to use thinly sliced beef with some fat.  Because as they say, fat is flavor and without some, the beef will be tough and dry when cooked. Therefore, use a cut of beef with enough fat such as chuck shoulder roast, ribeye, or chuck steak.

1/2 pound (225g) thinly shaved beef ribeye or chuck steak (see headnote)
6 large dried shiitake mushrooms (optional)
1 medium carrot (optional)
1 small (about 4 oz / 120 g) yellow onion
1 1/2 cups (120ml) homemade dashi*
2 tablespoons sake
3 tablespoons mirin (sweet cooking wine)
2 tablespoons (30ml) soy sauce 
1 tablespoon (12g) sugar, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon (5ml) grated fresh ginger 
Kosher Salt to taste

To Serve:
2 cups cooked white rice
2 – 3 poached eggs (optional)
Sliced scallions
Beni-shoga (Pickled Ginger)
Togarashi (Japanese spice blend)

Freeze beef for about ½ hour; then thinly slice against the grain. Set aside.  While the beef is freezing bring a medium saucepan of water to a simmer. Turn off heat and add dried shiitake mushrooms to rehydrate. Let sit until soft; then drain and squeeze the mushrooms to remove as much water as possible. Flaten them out and cut into 1/4 – 1/2-inch slices. Set aside.

Grate carrot using the largest holes of a box grater. Set aside. Cut the onion in half (from pole to pole not through the “equator”); then thinly slice, again from pole to pole. Set aside.

While the mushrooms are rehydrating in a medium saucepan combine onion, dashi, sake, soy sauce, and sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.

Add beef and cook, stirring until beef is cooked through and liquid has reduced down to an intensely flavored broth, about 5 minutes. Stir in ginger, sliced mushrooms, and grated carrot and simmer for 1 -2 minutes longer. Adjust seasoning with salt and sugar to taste.

Divide rice between 2 to 3 bowls and top with beef and sauce mixture. Garnish each bowl with a poached egg (if including), sliced scallions, beni-shoga, and togarashi. Serve while hot and enjoy.

Dashi*
1 quart (2L) water
1/2 oz (15 g) dried kombu (see note)
1/2 oz (15 g) packed dried bonito flakes (katsuobushi, see note)

Combine water and kombu in a medium saucepan. Bring to a bare simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and add bonito flakes. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer and discard kombu and bonito, or reserve to make a second, weaker batch of dashi. Any dashi not used can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.