Why It Works
- A balance of sweet and savory ingredients complements the sweet and savory flavors of beef and onions.
- One-pot simmering is a technique that requires no experience, making this a simple, foolproof meal.
If ramen is like the hamburger of Japan, gyudon—steamed rice topped with beef and onions simmered in sake and soy sauce—is its hot dog: a quick, easy meal that's equally at home at the food court or on your kitchen table.
- 1 small onion, slivered (about 4 ounces; 120g)
- 1/2 cup (120ml) homemade dashi, or the equivalent in Hondashi (see note)
- 1/4 cup (60ml) dry sake
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon (12g) sugar, plus more to taste
- 1/2 pound (225g) thinly shaved beef ribeye or chuck steak (see note)
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) grated fresh ginger
- To Serve:
- 2 cups cooked white rice
- 2 poached eggs (optional)
- Sliced scallions
- Beni-shoga (see note)
- Togarashi (see note)
Combine onion, dashi, sake, soy sauce, and sugar in a medium saucepan or saucier 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 and simmer for 1 minute 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 using), sliced scallions, beni-shoga, and togarashi. Serve immediately.
Homemade dashi is nice, but not necessary for this simple dish, which has so many other strong flavors. Look for thinly shaved beef at Japanese markets, ask your butcher to shave it for you, or use frozen shaved steak intended for Philly cheesesteaks. The beef can be cooked directly from the freezer if using frozen; just add a few minutes to the cooking time, and make sure to carefully stir the beef and break it apart as it thaws. Beni-shoga is bright red pickled hot ginger. Togarashi is Japanese chili powder, which comes in both ichimi (chilies only) and shichimi (chilies blended with other dried aromatics) versions. Either will work on this dish. All of these ingredients can be found in any Japanese market or well-stocked Western supermarket.