Thinly sliced grilled beef combined with grilled onions and a sweet, bold sesame Asian sauce come together to create this family favorite Japanese dish.
Yakiniku is a popular dish in Japan, which is why it’s easily found on just about every corner. And everywhere you find it, it’s prepared a tad bit differently. The focus of every yakiniku dish, though, is the same — grilled meat with a tasty Asian sauce.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy yakiniku is using the traditional method of cooking the meat, which is self-grilling at the dinner table with a group of family and friends. It’s the most fun and authentic way to have yakiniku — and best experienced at a restaurant with the proper equipment and ventilation.
While it may not be easy to prepare yakiniku the traditional way at home, it is easy to get that same great taste on the stovetop. And that’s exactly how I prepare it, following the same method my born and bred Japanese mother showed me some years ago.
The recipe calls for lots of onions, which may seem like an overkill. Trust me, though. The sweet, caramelized flavors of grilled onions complement the naturally savory tastes of grilled beef and the nutty, earthy spices of the sauce perfectly.
I use thinly sliced or already shaved beef from a local grocery store. This helps me to whip up dinner in no time. However, you can follow this same recipe using other cuts and types of meat, sliced at a thickness you prefer. Beef, chicken, or pork — no matter how you slice it, this yakiniku dish is delish!
As my mother would say, “oishii.”
- Pan grilling meat on a blazing hot surface will quickly brown the meat and trap its juices. That’s why it’s important to use a cast-iron or similar surface that’s safe to use over high heat and will retain heat during cooking. Two trusty choices are my Classic Cajun Cookware or 12” pre-seasoned cast iron skillet. I’ve used both pans for this recipe with perfect results each time.
- Serve this delicious dish alongside a helping of steamed rice. If you don’t already have a rice cooker, I highly recommend you invest in one as soon as possible. These special cookers make perfectly cooked rice and other things like steamed veggies and mixed rice quick meals. Plus, it saves time in the kitchen. I use this rice cooker and warmer, which does an outstanding job, every time.
- If you’re not a fan of rice or watching your carb intake, you can easily substitute lettuce leaves for the rice. Now you have tasty lettuce wraps!
- A variation of this dish is yakiniku don, which means it’s served in a bowl on top of rice. You can add cooked vegetables, like steamed cabbage or bok choy. This is an authentic meal for sure.
- A popular Japanese side dish for yakiniku is a bowl of steamed or boiled edamame.
- Grilled vegetables make an excellent side for this dish. Try grilled mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, or squash.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. You can store beef and pork for up to five days, and up to four days for chicken. Leftovers make for an ideal lunch.
- Instead of pre-sliced beef, slice up your own favorite cuts. You’ll want to choose cuts that are tender, fresh, and have a good amount of fat. Good options include beef tenderloin, top blade steak, or ribeye. Avoid tough cuts of beef that often require longer cooking times, such as rump roasts and top round steak.
- Instead of beef, try variations using sliced pork or chicken. The fatty cuts are best, like pork belly, pork loin, or chicken thighs.
- If slicing your own cut of meat, be sure to cut against the grain (especially with beef). This will help keep the meat more tender when cooking.
- This recipe works well with the sweeter onion varieties, like yellow onions, white onions, or sweet onions.
- The most crucial step for grilling meat is to make sure you heat the pan over high heat first. Place the meat into the pan only after the pan is good and hot. If using thin slices, it will only take a few minutes to grill. If using thicker slices, be sure to cook a minute or two longer, or until desired doneness.
- You can easily substitute the sugar with 3 tablespoons of honey and still get the same tasty results.
- Mirin is a rice wine, and a staple in Japanese kitchens. The best and most commonly found in grocery stores is Kikkoman Mano Aji Mirin, which is what I use. I highly recommend you keep a bottle on hand to create the truest form of Japanese cooking.
- There are so many options when it comes to sesame oil. I’m sure any would work; however, I’m equally sure that they don’t all have the same quality taste. I use and recommend Kadoya Sesame Oil for its rich, earthy flavors you won’t find in other brands.
If you enjoyed this recipe, please consider leaving a comment and star rating below. It’s always refreshing to hear how others like a recipe, find success with it, or tweak to suit. I’d love to hear from you!