I spent two years in Beijing, and now that I’m living in the New York City region, I find that I miss lunchtime there more than anywhere else.
Each weekday at noon, employees all throughout the city would begin streaming out of their workplaces in search of lunch. I was fortunate enough to get employment in a part of the city where there were various excellent eateries to choose from. On Mondays, I’d visit a hidden noodle bar for a bowl of hand-pulled noodles, and on Tuesdays, I’d go to a Yunnan hot pot restaurant.
In Beijing, it’s entirely common to schedule your lunch out many days in advance, so my coworkers and I did the same thing every week. There were other great non-Asian restaurants as well, including an Israeli one that had the finest falafel I’ve ever had.
However, a Japanese restaurant serving Gyudon was one of my favorite places to eat during lunch.
Gyudon consists essentially of thinly sliced fatty beef cooked in a slightly sweet mixture of mirin and soy sauce and served over rice. In other cases, sake is included for a unique flavor. In Beijing, I went to a restaurant where they served it steaming hot, with the raw egg yolk still in the dish.
Who ate that egg yolk?
Simply the greatest thing ever.
When warmed, it would add a depth of flavor to the meat and rice that could not be matched, not even by the siren song of hand-pulled noodles or Yunnan hot pot. That establishment was, needless to say, one that I visited at least once every two weeks.
Since returning to the United States, where pricey workday lunches aren’t as accessible as they were in Beijing, I’ve been looking for ways to re-create some of my favorite Beijing dishes. This Gyudon recipe is one of them.
Before we get to the recipe:
- Many Asian supermarkets provide thinly sliced beef for hot pot, as it is a popular dish in the region. Actually, it’s usually labeled “for Hot Pot.” A Philly cheesesteak, for example, uses thinly sliced meat that is comparable to this.
- You may also have noticed that I opted for a sunny-side-up egg instead of using a whole raw egg yolk in this recipe. If you don’t like raw eggs but still want to enjoy the pleasure of a runny yolk, this is the way to go.
All right, let’s get going.
- 450g of very thinly sliced fatty beef chuck or ribeye
- 4 eggs
- 2 very thinly sliced medium onions
- 1 scallion; chopped
- 4 cups of cooked white rice
- 1 cup of dashi stock
- 2 tablespoons of mirin
- 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons of sugar
- 2 teaspoons of toasted sesame seeds
- Neutral oil
- Cook the sliced onions in a large skillet coated with 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat for 10 minutes, turning frequently.
- Cook the meat with the sugar until it is just beginning to brown. Put in the soy sauce, mirin, and stock. Reduce the stock in a small pot for 10–15 minutes. If more soy sauce is needed, add it after tasting the dish.
- In the meantime, heat a few more tablespoons of oil in a heavy skillet. Ensure that the eggs are prepared with the sunny side up. If you need to, you can cook them in stages. Yolks that are still runny are ideal.
- When the beef is done cooking, plate it over rice and top each serving with an egg. Top with toasted sesame seeds and chopped scallion, if desired.