Jap Last Night: Gyudon

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L to R, back: seaweed miso soup, gyudon and fried mixed veg.L to R, front: agedashi tofu, shishamo (pregnant smelts)
Speed is the key these days. Who knows if there'll be another power outage. Bento's salmon donburi reminded me how I used to cook gyudon (beef-rice bowl) if I wanted a presto meal. This is the easiest Japanese dish you'll ever make, believe me.

Hong Seng at Damai, round the corner from Coffee Bean, is where you can get your Australian frozen beef sliced for shabu-shabu and sukiyaki. Some of my friends have told me they avoid going there because the people are so snobby and they won't even let you get away with 5 sen. I know what they mean. I once was totally out of change, and the lady boss waited for me to fumble through my bag, then go to my car to get the money. On top of that the shop's policy is to look as sour face as their faces allow. If you do get your beef sliced there, do expect to pay an extra RM5 per kg. Cutting it at no. 04 on their machine gives the best thickness (thinness?). I had my sirloin cut using no. 5 and it was too thick. I don't like the beef cut too thin either, as in the Jap restaurants. When cut too thin, the beef will clump together when thawed and tear when you handle it, and worst, it tastes like paper. If money's no problem, use ribeye. You must have the beef cut by the machine. Cutting by hand will give uneven thickness.

Cook your soup and other dishes first, and the beef last because being thin, the beef cooks fast and needs to be eaten hot before it cools and toughen. You can even cook it while your good sons and daughters set the table.

Gyudon (serves 4)
400 to 500g sirloin, sliced thinly n cut roughtly into 5 x 10 cm pcs
a big bunch of spring onions or scallions, in 3 cm lengths*
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
3 cups hot water
1 t dashi granules
1 t sugar (1T if you like it sweeter) *spring onions have a dark fuchsia sheath on the bulbs and stems and are more tender than scallions which are bigger and white near the bulbs and stems.

1. When all your other dishes are ready, scoop cooked plain rice into large rice bowls and place bowls near your hob.

2. Put the hot water into a pot, add the dashi, soy sauce, mirin and sugar and when it boils, increase the heat to high and add all the beef, stirring well with a pair of chopsticks to separate them. Add the spring onions, remove from heat and stir to mix. The beef's best when there's still some red because if it goes beyond that, it will toughen. Mine was too done.

3. Put equal amount of beef and sauce on top of each bowl of rice and serve immediately.