Aside from the addition of cheese, it is gyudon, the Japanese beef rice bowl. The beef is cooked with onion slices, seasoned with dashi, soy sauce, sake and mirin, and heaped on top of rice in a bowl. Salty, sweet and bursting with umami, it’s Japanese comfort food which has become a favorite in our house.
In Japan, gyudon is not fine dining fare. We had it in Osaka where branches of gyudon chains are everywhere. When business operations were hampered by restrictions in 2020, Sukiya, a gyudon chain, came up a new marketing technique. According to SoraNews24, Sukiya started sharing “arranged recipes” on its website to show that a dish as common as beef rice bowl can be transformed into something gourmet-like.
And melty cheese beef rice bowl was born — a dish that, depending on how much cheese you use, can look like the more elaborate doria. If the term is new to you, doria is an array of Japanese fusion dishes that consists of rice topped with a creamy sauce and baked. Seafood, chicken or meat often goes between the rice and the sauce.
That’s how melty cheese beef rice bowl looks like. Rice at the bottom of a bowl, beef with sauce on top of the rice and, the crowning glory, melted cheese that’s toasted in spots and gooey all over. Unlike doria, there is no need to bake melty cheese beef rice bowl in the oven. A kitchen torch does the job of melting and toasting the cheese well. But, before you reach that stage, you have to cook the beef first.
Cook thinly sliced onions in a little oil until softened and lightly caramelized.
Add very thinly sliced beef and pour in the seasoning. The seasoning, a mixture of dashi, soy sauce, sake and mirin, becomes a sauce as the beef cooks.
The beef and onions are cooked in the seasoning until the liquid has reduced, the beef has darkened and fat has been rendered. If you serve the beef over rice in a bowl, it’s gyudon. Now, we turn the gyudon into melty cheese beef rice bowl a la Sukiya.
Scoop rice into bowls, top with the beef with some of the sauce then place shredded cheese, or a combination of cheeses, on top. Torch the cheese until melted and you have your melty cheese beef rice bowl a la Sukiya.
Melty cheese beef rice bowl
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 2 large onions peeled and thinly sliced
- 500 grams thinly sliced beef cut into strips
- ¼ cup dashi
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup sake
- ¼ cup mirin
- ¼ cup sliced scallions to serve
- cooked rice
- 250 grams shredded cheese
- Heat the cooking oil in a frying pan.
- Add the onion slices to the hot oil and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until softened and just beginning to caramelize.
- Turn up the heat to high, add the beef to the onion slices and stir to break up any clumps. Cook just until the meat is no longer pink.
- Pour in the soy sauce, mirin, sake and dashi, and stir.
- Turn down the heat to medium and cook, uncovered with occasional stirring, until the sauce has reduced to about two tablespoonfuls.
- Scoop rice into four bowls, ladle the beef over the rice and top with shredded cheese.
- Using a kitchen torch, heat the cheese until melted and toasted in spots.
- Garnish your melty cheese beef rice bowl with sliced scallions, and serve immediately.