Friday, July 30, 2010

Hibachi-Style Steak and Veggies with Ginger Sauce

Some spare vegetables and an extra ribeye gave me divinely delicious inspiration recently: Benihana-style faux-hibachi dinner. I've done this before and it is easy and tasty, not to mention LOADS cheaper than a night out at your local Japanese steakhouse. All you need are quality ingredients, an electric griddle (it's not just for pancakes), and a good dipping sauce recipe. Here we go!

First, the sauce. We've tried innumerable store-bought Asian-style sauces with no luck. They were all too something: too salty, too sweet, too fishy, too bland. I've never been to an actual Benihana restaurant, but we have a local version here called Shogun that has similar food, from what I'm told. Shogun's ginger dipping sauce is fantastic, and I thought maybe Benihana's would be too.

I found a recipe purporting to be the one used at Benihana, tried it, and modified it to be even better. This sauce is perfect with steak, chicken, and vegetables. You'll have more than you need for this meal, so stick the rest in a zip-top bag and freeze it for later!

Ginger Soy Dipping Sauce
makes about a cup and a half

1/4 of a medium yellow onion, chopped
1 tbsp. peeled and grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce (I like the Kikkoman low sodium version.)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp. Asian garlic chili sauce (I like the Roland brand.)

Whir it up in a blender until combined. Set aside until ready to serve.

This is my griddle, a very old but dependable Presto that I received secondhand many moons ago. The knob goes up to 400ยบ (presumably that's close to actual heating temperature), so that's what I set it to. I greased it lightly with vegetable oil.

Mung bean sprouts are a key part of the vegetable portion of this meal. They are cheap - about 99 cents a bag - and provide a welcome crunch.

I used traditional hibachi steakhouse veggies- onions, zucchini, and mushrooms. Don't cut them too small. You want some substance even after they are cooked.

I had one ribeye left out of a bulk package from Sam's Club. I seasoned it with kosher salt and fresh black pepper before letting it rest and warm up a little. Cold meat doesn't cook as well.

I started the steak first, getting a good brown seared crust on one side before flipping it over and covering it with a saucepan lid to help hold in heat. I wound up flipping it a couple of times to cook it thoroughly- we like our steak medium to medium-well.

While the steak is cooking on one side of the griddle, start cooking the onions, zucchini, and mushrooms on the other. Mix them together, season with kosher salt and pepper, and stir occasionally with a spatula. You don't want to have too much liquid around them, or they'll get soggy instead of browned. A squeeze of lemon juice as they finish cooking is quite nice.

When the vegetables are almost done, stir-fry the mung beans by themselves for a minute or two before mixing them in with the other veggies.

Serve a hunk of steak, a pile of veggies and sprouts, and plain cooked rice with a small dish of ginger sauce for dipping and drizzling.

Now that's umami.

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