Savory Japanese Beef Rice Bowl (Gyudon) With Soft Boiled Egg (2)
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Savory Japanese Beef Rice Bowl (Gyudon) With Soft Boiled Egg

Cooks in 20 Minutes Difficulty Medium 0 comments

If you are in the mood for a little Asian flavor, this Japanese beef rice bowl is perfect. Gyudon is a popular Japanese dish consisting of thinly sliced beef cooked in aromatics with a sweet and savory sauce served over a rice bowl. It is often served as a quick and affordable option for lunch or dinner, and it’s known for its hearty and delicious flavor profile. With sauteed, thinly sliced, and caramelized onions, garlic, and ginger, it’s an economical Gyudon recipe the whole family will love. 

My daughter loves Asian flavors and suggested we make Gyudon. Her understanding of the flavors of that area impressed me. For many years, I thought tossing soya sauce on fried rice was the epitome of Asian flavor. I am just learning with her that there is so much more to the wide world of flavors than Canadian restaurants.

Enter this stunningly simple beef dish, which packs flavor with tender strips of beef and simmering sauce that flavors the big bowl of plain rice underneath. 

cooked Gyudon with green onion and sesame seeds sprinkled on top

Why you will love this recipe

Quick and Easy to Make: Gyudon is a relatively simple dish. It is a great option for busy weeknights or when you’re short on time. You can have a satisfying supper ready in minutes with just a few ingredients and minimal cooking techniques.

Versatile and Customizable: While the essential components of Gyudon are thinly sliced beef and rice cooked in a sweet and savory sauce, there’s plenty of room for customization. (see substitutions and add-in section.)

Delicious and Comforting: Gyudon is known for its rich, savory flavor and hearty, comforting appeal. Thin slices of beef are cooked in a flavorful sauce and served with jasmine rice, creating a flavorful Japanese-inspired dinner. 

If you love Asian flavor you will love our spicy peanut sauce ramen with jammy egg!

Let’s make this beef bowl already!

First, find a nice thick and juicy-looking steak at the grocer. Don’t settle for anything less than half an inch thick. Why? Because you need to cut it into thin strips. Thin steaks will not easily co-operate with your knife and will not make beautiful beef slices. You can choose a top sirloin, chuck, or ribeye steak. They are the best cuts of meat because of their tenderness, flavor, and affordability. This meal is economical, so we aim for something other than the costliest grilling steak. Leave that porterhouse at the butcher’s. 

Before you begin, gathering all the tools you will need is essential. The pot for cooking the rice, the pan for sautéing the onions, and the pan for cooking the steak should be deep and wide. We used a large stainless steel fry pan for this recipe. Once you have chosen the cookware, you can move on to food prep. 

Start by peeling and slicing onion. Don’t like tearing? A tip I learned from my days in fast food prep is that refrigerating your onions will drastically reduce that. Slice the large white onion in half and then thin pieces until it’s all cut up. Put the sliced onions aside and work the fresh garlic. You want to peel it, crush it, and then dice it fine. From there, we peel and cut the fresh ginger into thin strips. It will end up equal to two tablespoons when cut up. We worked with a node approximately two inches in size. 

This beef dish is typically topped with a soft-boiled egg. My daughter and I agreed that uncooked egg white wasn’t our preference, so we made slightly jammy, soft-boiled eggs to cook all the whites. The cooking time for the eggs is eight minutes. My daughter’s trick is to knock a small hole in the big end of the egg. Doing so will allow the water to enter the air pocket. This allows the white to pull back from the shell, making it easier to peel.

So now that the eggs are boiling, you can set to work on making the rice. Rinse your rice under cold water until it runs clear. You do this to remove excess starch, keeping the rice from becoming sticky or gummy when cooked. Rinsing also gets rid of any impurities that may be present in the packing process. To cook the rice, you follow your regular cooking process after rinsing it. What type of rice? Well, I leave that up to you. We love Jasmine rice around here, so that’s what we made. 

While the rice is cooking, you can make the thin slices of beef. Cut the steak against the grain using a sharp knife in thin strips. Set it aside and gather the ingredients for the sauce. Mix them together in a small bowl. With your large pan on medium-low heat, add enough neutral oil to cover the bottom of your frying pan. Add the white onions and sweat them. The goal of sweating onions is to soften and release their moisture, which helps to develop their natural sweetness and flavor. Once this is done in two minutes, you can add the garlic and the fresh ginger. 

Now, sauté until the garlic and ginger are softened. While it’s sauteed, add the sauce mixture. When the onions are fully sauteed and translucent, add the steak. Remember to stir the rice once in a while to keep it from sticking to the bottom of your pot. 

While the beef is cooking, add one tablespoon of sesame oil. Allow it to cook until the meat is cooked through. You can cook the beef on medium high heat to finish cooking it. Take the time to finish up the rice and peel the eggs. Choose a wide bowl for the bowl of rice and make a generous bed of rice. In the center of the rice bed, you want to create a mini nest where you can add an egg to sit up above the rest of the rice—creating a moat for the flavorful beef around the center of the dish. 

When you have done this to the four bowls, the steak will likely be done cooking, as those thin strips take little time to cook. If the steak is cooked beforehand, remove it from direct heat. Spoon a generous amount of the steak and onion around the egg on top of the bed of rice. Lastly, scoop up some savory-sweet sauce and drizzle it over the steak and rice. 

Lastly, garnish the Gyudon beef bowl with sesame seeds and green onion stems. Serve the Gyudon with chopsticks or forks if you prefer. Break the egg open to allow the bright yellow egg center to spill, creating a delicious gravy for the dish. 

Ingredients:

Steak: Thinly sliced sirloin steak is simmered in the sauce, absorbing the delicious flavors while remaining tender and juicy. 

White Onion: When sliced thinly and cooked in the broth, the white onion becomes soft and slightly translucent, adding a contrasting texture to the dish. It provides a tender yet somewhat crunchy element that complements the tender beef and fluffy rice.

Green Onion: Serves as both garnish and to flavor the dish with the white onion heads. 

Soya Sauce: Rich in glutamates, soya sauce has a great umami flavor. When added to the sauce for Gyudon, it enhances the overall depth and savoriness of the dish.

Rice Vinegar: Rice vinegar in the sauce for Gyudon adds a tangy and slightly acidic component that complements the other flavors by balancing the sweetness and giving it a bright vibrancy. The vinegar also helps tenderize the beef as it simmers.

Worcestershire Sauce: This ingredient, while not traditionally in this Japanese beef bowl, gives an excellent umami boost to the dish. It introduces tanginess, sweetness, and a hint of spice, contributing to a more multidimensional taste experience.

Gochujang: This ingredient brings a dash of Korean flare to the Japanese dish, infusing it with spicy heat and complex flavor. When using gochujang in Gyudon sauce, adjusting the amount according to your spice tolerance and desired flavor intensity is essential. 

Brown Sugar: Brown sugar adds a rich, caramel-like sweetness to the Gyudon sauce, balancing the savory and potentially spicy flavors from ingredients like soy sauce or gochujang. This sweetness enhances the flavor profile, making the dish more well-rounded and satisfying.

Sesame Oil: Sesame oil can be pretty potent, so using it sparingly in Gyudon sauce is essential. Our recipe uses the perfect amount to bring the nutty Asian flavor to our sauce. 

Neutral Oil: We used neutral oil to sweat the onions and sauté them afterward with fresh garlic and ginger. The oil is well-suited to not imparting much flavor into the dish while keeping your ingredients from sticking. 

Fresh Garlic: The garlic is first crushed and then diced to release its flavor. When sauteed with the onions and ginger, it creates the base aromatics in the dish, releasing all its delicious flavor. 

Fresh Ginger: Fresh ginger imparts a subtle warmth and tanginess to the Gyudon sauce, complementing the savory-sweet flavors of the beef and other ingredients. It adds an almost floral and slightly spicy kick, balancing out the dish’s richness.

Soft-Boiled Eggs: A soft-boiled egg provides a velvety, custard-like texture to Gyudon when the yolk is still slightly runny. The yolk mixes with the rice and sauce as you break into the egg, creating a luxurious and creamy ‘gravy’ that enhances each bite.

Rice: We used Jasmine rice because we like its texture and flavor. It’s known for its delicate aroma, soft texture, and slightly sticky consistency when cooked. 

cooked Gyudon with green onion with soft boiled egg open (2)

Substitutions or Add-Ins For The Beef Rice Bowl

Steak: We used a thick sirloin steak to make this dish. Sirloin steak is a fatty beef cut that usually has slight marbling throughout. Another cut of beef, like flank or chuck, would also work. Chuck Steak is a budget-friendly option for Gyudon. While it’s less tender than sirloin or ribeye, its rich, beefy flavor becomes tender when cooked low and slow. However, if you find steak outside your grocery budget, feel free to experiment with either ground beef or chicken. 

White Onion: You can use regular yellow cooking onion or even Vidalia onions instead of the white onion. Remember that the white onion was used for its sweet flavor, while yellow cooking onions tend to have a more pungent taste. Alternatively, you can use red onions, which add visual appeal to the dish, and their slightly sweet and tangy flavor can complement the other ingredients.

Green Onion: Dried chives will work in place of the green onion. 

Soya Sauce: It can be subbed with Shoyu, another Japanese soy sauce typically lighter in color and milder in flavor than regular soy sauce. It can be used as a substitute in Gyudon, adding a savory and slightly sweet taste. Tamari is a Japanese soy sauce similar in flavor to regular soy sauce but often has a slightly richer and less salty taste. It’s a good substitute for soy sauce in Gyudon, especially if you want a gluten-free option.

Rice Vinegar: Can be switched with white wine, apple cider, or white vinegar. Another option is to use Mirin. In Japanese recipes, Mirin, a sweet rice wine, is often used interchangeably with rice vinegar.

Worcestershire Sauce: Can be omitted.

Gochujang: Can be omitted or switched with red pepper chili flakes for heat. 

Brown Sugar: Since this is only used to sweeten the sauce, you can replace it relatively easily with white sugar or honey. Other good substitute options are maple syrup, agave nectar, or molasses. 

Sesame Oil: This ingredient imparts a nice nutty flavor. The closest thing to substitute would be some toasted sesame seeds. Crush or grind the toasted sesame seeds and sprinkle them over the Gyudon before serving to add flavor and texture. Be sure to omit the regular sesame seeds that we used to garnish with. 

Neutral Oil: We used olive oil, but you can also use vegetable, canola, sunflower, or avocado oil with good results. 

Fresh Garlic: It can be replaced with pre-made garlic paste or jarred garlic pieces. You must adjust the amounts, as garlic paste and jarred garlic can be weaker in flavor than freshly crushed garlic. 

Fresh Ginger: If you have trouble locating this ingredient, use Ginger paste. The paste is made from crushed ginger blended with a small amount of oil. It can be used as a substitute for fresh ginger in Gyudon. Use about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of ginger paste per tablespoon of fresh ginger. Alternatively, dried ginger can be used as a substitute for fresh ginger in a pinch. Use about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of dried ginger per tablespoon of fresh ginger called for in the recipe. Rehydrate the dried ginger by soaking it in warm water before adding it to the Gyudon.

Soft-Boiled Eggs: We prefer not to have runny whites, so we soft-boiled them to a jammy egg consistency. If you prefer a softer boil, feel free. You can also omit the egg to cut down on protein or ingredients. Alternatively, you can add an Onsen egg to the dish. An Onsen egg, a hot spring egg, is a deliciously creamy treat! It’s like a mix between a soft-boiled and a poached egg. People make it by cooking an egg in warm water for a while, just like the hot springs naturally warm things up. It’s perfect for adding extra yumminess to rice bowls. Another choice would be to add a soft-poached egg to the top of the dish. 

Rice: Any white rice other than Arborio will work for this rice bowl. Choose one that isn’t too sticky, as you want the rice grains to be loose. 

You can add vegetables to your Japanese cuisine, Gyudon, to enhance its flavor and nutritional value. Great options include carrots, bell peppers, green beans, snow peas, broccoli, mushrooms, spinach, bean sprouts, and snap peas. Feel free to mix and match these vegetables based on your preferences and what you have on hand. Adding a variety of colorful vegetables enhances the dish’s visual appeal and provides a range of flavors and nutrients.

Savory Japanese Beef Rice Bowl (Gyudon) With Soft Boiled Egg (3)

Expert Tips, Serving and Storing Suggestions

Tip #1: Thinly slice steak. Placing it in the freezer for 30 minutes to 1 hour before slicing will make it easier to cut. Partial freezing will firm up the meat, making it easier to slice thinly and evenly. Be careful not to freeze the steak completely solid; you want it to be slightly firm. Slice the steak against the grain to break up the tough muscle fibers and ensure tender strips of meat. Cutting against the grain also helps the steak to absorb flavors more effectively.

Tip #2: Rinse the Rice: Before cooking jasmine rice, rinse it thoroughly in cold water until it is clear. This helps remove excess starch from the rice, resulting in a fluffier texture once cooked.

Tip #3: Piercing the Eggshell. Before cooking, make a small hole in the large end of the egg. It will allow air to escape during the boiling process and reduce the likelihood of the eggshell cracking or bursting. This simple step can help prevent messy boil-overs and ensure that your eggs cook evenly.

To serve the Gyudon rice bowl with a soft-boiled egg in the center, carefully place the cooked rice in a wide bowl. Then, create a nest in the center for the egg to sit on. Spoon the delicious beef and onion mixture over the rice around the egg. Using a ladling spoon, scoop extra sauce over the dish. Finally, sprinkle some sliced green onions and sesame seeds for extra flavor. Enjoy your tasty, easy meal. 

Gyudon can be refrigerated and reheated later. Once it has cooled to room temperature, transfer the leftovers to an airtight container. Gyudon can last in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days. Reheat the dish thoroughly before eating. 

Gyudon can be frozen for longer-term storage. Place the cooled Gyudon in an airtight container or heavy-duty freezer bag, ensuring it’s tightly sealed to prevent freezer burn. Properly stored, Gyudon can maintain its quality in the freezer for up to 1 to 2 months. When ready to eat, thaw the Gyudon overnight in the refrigerator before reheating it thoroughly on the stovetop or microwave. Remember to stir the rice dish occasionally while reheating to ensure even heating. Remember that freezing will make the rice and the veggies softer. The flavor shouldn’t be affected, though. 

Have you tried making this Japanese dish? We would love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below the recipe card. We love hearing from you, our readers.

Savory Japanese Beef Rice Bowl (Gyudon) With Soft Boiled Egg (3)

Japanese Gyudon (Beef Rice Bowl) Budget Friendly Meal

Amber Bondar
This Japanese Gyudon beef rice bowl is a budget friendly meal. With a few simple base ingredients and a flavorful sauce that has a mixture of savory and sweet the rice bowl is a great dinner. Topped with a soft-boiled egg its super rich and satisfying!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Canadian, Japanese
Servings 4

Equipment

  • 1 Large Deep Frying Pan
  • 1 knife
  • Cutting board
  • 1 Tablespoon
  • 1 Teaspoon
  • 1 measuring cup
  • 4 Wide Individual Serving Bowls
  • Ladle
  • Stirring Utensil
  • 1 Medium Saucepan
  • 1 Small Saucepan

Ingredients
  

Making The Rice

  • 2 Cups Jasmine Rice
  • 4 Cups Water

To Perfectly Soft-Boil Egg

  • 4 Lrg Eggs
  • Water To Cover

Gyudon

  • 3 Lb Sirloin Steak Cut Into Thin Strips
  • 1 Lrg White Onion Cut Into Thin Pieces
  • 3 Lrg Cloves Fresh Garlic Crushed & Diced
  • 2 Tbsp Fresh Ginger Cut Into Thin Strips
  • 4 Green Onions Whites Separated From Green
  • 1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
  • Neutral Oil To Coat Pan & Prevent Sticking
  • 4 Tsp Sesame Seeds For Garnish

The Gyudon Sauce

  • ½ Cup Soya Sauce
  • Tbsp Rice Vinegar
  • 1 Tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Gochujang
  • 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar

Instructions
 

Making The Rice

  • Measure rice into bowl and rinse under cold water until water runs clear.
  • Add rice to medium saucepan with the water.
  • Cook as per package directions for temp and time.

Gyudon

  • Cut steak into thin strips against the grain. Set aside.
  • Cut white onion in half then in thin slices.
  • Peel garlic and crush then dice.
  • Peel fresh ginger and cut into small strips. Approximately a 2" node of fresh ginger.
  • In large deep frying pan add enough neutral oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
  • Heat on medium-high heat.
  • Add white onions and let them sweat for two minutes.
  • Add in the fresh garlic and ginger and allow to sauté.
  • Add the white of the green onion to the pan as well.
  • After the aromatics have sauteed add the sauce and the beef strips to the pan.
  • Increase temperature slightly to cook the beef.
  • Add the sesame oil.

Making the Gyudon Sauce

  • In small dish measure the sauce ingredients and blend well.
  • Add sauce to meat mixture while it is cooking.

Soft-Boiled Eggs

  • Poke small hole in large end of the eggs.
  • Cover eggs with water in small saucepan and cook on high heat for 8 minutes.
  • Remove from heat immediately and run under cold water to prevent further cooking.
  • Peel when ready.

Assembling and Serving Beef Rice Bowl

  • In large wide bowls make a bed of cooked rice.
  • Add a small bump of rice in the center of each bowl and create a divot. This will act as a nest for the egg.
  • Place whole soft-boiled egg in rice nest.
  • In area around egg scoop cooked beef mixture.
  • Scoop some of the savory sauce and pour around on the beef and rice.
  • Garnish each bowl with the green onion stem and a teaspoon of sesame seeds.
  • Serve while hot.
Keyword beef, Japanese, rice bowl, simple supper

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