Gyu-Don: As Essential for Mad Scientists as Lab Coats and Dr. Pepper

Gyudon - Steins Gate 06 - 02If Dr. Pepper is the drink of choice for mad scientists, then gyu-don would have to be the meal of choice!

In Steins;Gate, Okarin and his Future Gadget Lab members are often found discussing their latest predicament in a local gyu-don restaurant. In episode 6, Suzuha joins Okarin and Daru for a meal. Never having eaten gyu-don before (though she’s heard rumours about it!), it is a pleasure to see how happily she reacts to her first bites of tender beef. I love how Okarin basically goads her into cracking a raw egg on top of her gyu-don (which Suzuha does, with unsatisfactory results as suggested by her and Daru’s reactions), and claims that that true warriors can eat at a gyu-don restaurant by themselves, while offhandedly saying that he’ll eat with her again… if she asks. ha.

This scene has everything I love about Steins;Gate, including: Okarin talking crazy into his cellphone (much to the chagrin of the unimpressed waitress who repeatedly reminds him that cellphones aren’t allowed), Daru remembering how he got duped by Okarin, who left him with the bill last time they ate gyu-don, and Mayuri’s signature “tuttu-ruu”.

So, if you have an urge to act the role of the Mad Scientist, put on your lab coat, grab a Dr. Pepper, and start eating gyu-don!

About the recipe:

I love gyu-don (literally “beef bowl, with gyu meaning beef, and don short for donburi or bowl)… there’s something so satisfying about eating tons of thinly cut, simmered beef on top of a ton of rice. Slightly sweet, a bit salty (a lot like teriyaki sauce!), with a hint of ginger, and that half cooked egg on top, it’s no wonder that there are entire restaurant chains and shops in Japan completely devoted to serving this one dish.

Gyu-don is pretty simple to make, and can be a relatively simple weeknight meal. It’s also nice as a hearty lunch. This dish is typically served with a bowl of miso soup and a raw egg (optional) cracked on top of the hot beef. Since raw egg is not everyone’s cup of tea, the recipe below includes a way to partially cook it in its shell.

About the ingredients:

Gyudon - Steins GateThe beef you use should be very thinly sliced. You can either buy pre-sliced meat, or you could always slice your own. If you’re slicing your own beef, sticking the meat in the freezer until is it partially frozen will help you make very thin cuts.

As for the cut of beef, I like to use flank steak cut into strips and then sliced thin. You want to choose a cut of meat that does not have too much tendons, or gristle (a little fat marbling the beef is good, but not tons). If you’re slicing it yourself, make sure to cut against the grain so that the meat will be more tender.

Mirin is a kind of rice wine mixed with sugar, to create a very sweet condiment. It can be found in Asian grocery stores as well as some Western grocery stores.

Dashi is a common, clear fish stock that comes in the form of powder or granules. It dissolves into anything wet, and is often used in Japanese cooking. It can be found in Asian grocery stores as well as some Western grocery stores.

Topping your gyu-don with an egg is optional, but since I love eggs, I always include it! To make the onsen tamago (literally hotspring egg), simply pour boiling water over the whole eggs and then cover for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the hot water, and cool the egg in an ice bath to stop the cooking.

Crack the egg open immediately once it has cooled (takes about 2-3 minutes in the cold water). If you simply let the eggs sit in their shells and try to crack them directly over the gyu-don, they will have cooked completely through, becoming hard boiled eggs.

When you crack the egg open (crack and open it up just like you would an uncooked egg), it will be partially cooked, with the whites loose and the yolk still runny, almost as if it were poached inside its shell.

Beni shouga is pickled ginger that is julienned (cut like short matchsticks) and is a bright red in color. The sharp and sour taste of the ginger makes a nice contrast to the sweetness of the beef. This product can be found in many Asian grocery stores, and comes in a jar, with the beni shouga submerged in a vinegary solution.

Shichimi togarashi (or nanairo togarashi) is a Japanese 7 flavour chili pepper (shi and nana both mean “7” in Japanese). It is a blend of various spices and ingredients, of which the main ingredient is chili pepper. It is often used in soups, or sprinkled on noodles and dishes like gyu-don.

A typical blend might include: coarsely ground red chili pepper, ground sansho (Sichuan pepper), roasted orange peel, black sesame seed, white sesame seed, hemp seed, ground ginger, nori or aonori.

Gyudon

The recipe:

Gyu-don

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb thinly sliced beef
  • 1/2 onion, cut and separated into 1/2 inch wedges
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sake
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp dashi
  • 2 eggs
  • Toppings: Beni shouga, shichimi, chopped green onion

Directions:

1. For the eggs: Place the eggs in a pot and pour enough boiling water on top of them to submerge the eggs completely. Cover with the lid, and let rest for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your eggs. Remove eggs from the hot water and place in ice water to cool. Once cool (2-3 minutes), crack the eggs gently into two small bowls. The white of the egg should be slightly runny and loose, and the yolk should still be soft. Set aside.

2. In a pot, bring water to a boil, and then turn off the heat. Add the sliced beef and parboil, stirring to loosen the meat, until just cooked and its red color has disappeared, about 1-2 minutes. Immediately remove beef from the pot, drain well, and set aside. Do not overcook.

3. Place soy sauce, sake, sugar, and mirin in a pan set on medium heat. When the mixture begins to bubble, add the beef and toss to coat the meat with the sauce evenly. Before the sauce evaporates, turn off the heat, remove the beef from the pan, and set aside.

4. Add water, dashi, and ginger to the remaining sauce in the pan. Bring it up to heat, and add in the onions once it begins to bubble. Cover with a lid, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to low, give the onions a stir, and then cook until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the beef back into the pan to reheat.

5. Fill a large bowl with rice. Spoon the beef and onions with sauce on top of the rice. Garnish with a sprinkle of green onions, a small mound of beni shouga, and shichimi togarashi. Gently slide the egg from its bowl and place on top of the beef.

Serve with miso soup.

Source: Cooking with Dog

Gyudon - Steins Gate 03 - 03

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