Recipes

Yakiniku at home

I enjoy Yakiniku – the Japanese wagyu, the smell of burnt meat, the caramelisation of the onions. You can actually do this at home fairly easily, what you need are the proper tools.

Yakiniku, meaning “grilled meat”, is a Japanese term that, in its broadest sense, refers to grilled meat cuisine. “Yakiniku” originally referred to western “barbecue” food, the term being popularized by Japanese writer Kanagaki Robun in his Seiyo Ryoritsu, i.e. “western food handbook”, in 1872.

Today, “yakiniku” commonly refers to a style of cooking bite-size meat (usually beef and offal) and vegetables on gridirons or griddles over a flame of wood charcoals carbonized by dry distillation (sumibi, 炭火) or a gas/electric grill, making it one of the most popular national dishes of Japan. In many parts of the world, yakiniku is also commonly referred to as “Japanese barbecue”.

The Tools

First, you need a stove.

Gas stove

You can get one of these gas stove that uses a gas canister at an incredible price range. But safety is top priority, do pick only the reputable brands like Iwatani or this Korean one from Suntouch. Most companies make their stoves in China these days, but its the quality control that matters, so don’t stinge on this essential piece of cookware. You can invest in a good one and use it as your backup stove.

The next piece of cookware is the yakiniku griddle. Again, buy from reputable brand as you are cooking on them. Make sure the non-stick surface can withstand high heat and scratches. Iwatani is still the brand to trust for such griddles. If you choose Iwatani’s ones, they will fit perfectly with their stoves (and most others as they are usually copy of Iwatani’s designs). Poorly made ones will fume badly and not spread the heat evenly. I have invested in a silicon oil applicator. On first use, remember to heat up with some cooking oil to burn off all factory lubricants and chemical.

The Food

Yakiniku is all about the “niku”, beef, and the quality and cut of the beef is all about the budget.

NZ grass-fed sirloin

Remember that this is BBQ, so the higher the fat content, the faster they will render and cook. Prepare around 300g of meat per person, with appropriate amount of vegetables and mushrooms. These portions are for 3 persons.

Sirloin with yakiniku marinade

I have cut the sirloin at an angle into strips and marinade it with pre-made yakiniku sauce from Japan. Japanese ones would normally not have HFCS, so I prefer to use those. These sauces are typically enhanced with cane sugar, so if you want to eliminate that, you may choose to make your own marinade.

Keep the fats

Keep the fats from the sirloin, they are useful to grease the griddle and provide a better flavour. Other typical items for grilling are mushrooms, typically button and enoki are used, and peppers and onions. Offals are hard to get in Singapore and generally not healthy, so let’s skip those. And for those who are not beef eaters, you can use pork or shellfish. Fish is typically not used for yakiniku.

Succulent tiger prawns

In this instance, I used large tiger prawns which I had shelled to facilitate the grilling. Some purists will frown introducing seafood or shelling the prawn, but hey, it’s home cooking, you improvise to make life easier.

Cooking Yakiniku

Arrangement

There’s no fixed rules, but I would typically put the hardest to cook like pepper and onions on the grills as they are exposed to the flames. I put the button mushrooms on the top and wait for the liquids in the mushrooms to bubble out of each fungus. This is the sign that they are done. I will layout the enoki to catch the juices from the grilling beef.

Beautiful juices of the mushroom

The doneness of the beef is up to individual preference.

Great flavours from the tiger prawns

But do cook the shellfish slightly well done.

Other variations can include truffle oil on the beef. That enhancement really works well with yakiniku. And I would prepare some steamed rice and pickles (like kimchi) with the yakiniku, they really go well with grilled meat. What I forgot to prepare is some lettuce and mustard greens to wrap the meat with. That’s how Korean and Japanese would eat them.

Anyway, there’s almost no difficulty to prepare this at home. Just invest in a good stove and a griddle.

Date Cooked : Aug 2020

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