Niku-Oozara! (Japanese Meat Platter)

Behold my humble entry to Meathenge's Meat Platter Contest.

  • Beef Tataki
  • Beef Negimaki
  • Chicken Yakitori
  • Bacon-Wrapped Shitaki & Enoki Mushrooms
  • Pork Tonkatsu

You'll also notice that the platter was served with edamame (steamed soy beans, which go great with beer) and a couple of saketinis: these ones with vodka, sake, and fresh squeezed OJ.

Japanese cuisine is, obviously, best known for its preoccupation with seafood. And for good reason: there are few things more sublime than a great piece of toro, a dollop of fresh uni, or a quail egg resting on a glistening bed of salmon roe. Yet the popularity of sushi often obscures (for Americans at least, the rising popularity of tempura and of ramen restaurants nothwithstanding) the many delicious Japanese dishes made of beef, chicken, and pork.

All of these dishes share an underlying simplicity of preparation and presentation, and all can be made with a small number of core ingredients that can be found at most Asian markets and even many supermarkets these days: sake, rice vinegar, shoyu (japanese soy sauce, typically lower in sodium content than Chinese soy sauce), mirin (a sweetened rice wine used for cooking), castor sugar (confectioner's sugar will also work), panko crumbs, and garlic. Apart from these, it's all about finding top notch cuts of meat--and we're fortunate enough to have a Whole Foods in Sarasota, so while this meal wasn't done on the cheap (the organic filet mignon was $26 a pound) it was well worth the time and effort.

What do you say we get a little more acquainted with the various menu items?

Beef Tataki and Beef Negimaki

"Tataki" is a cooking method that means 'to sear on the outside while leaving the inside raw'--just like "tartar," though I don't believe they are etymologically related. Tuna tataki is another favorite, but prepared slightly differently. I marinated a chunk of filet mignon in a soy/mirin/rice vinegar/sake mixture for several hours, then seared each side of the cut, immediately plunging it into a bowl of ice water to stop it from cooking further. I then simmered the marinade while adding a bit of sugar, chilled it quickly in the freezer, and marinated the filet for another hour or so before slicing thin and serving with the marinade as a dipping sauce.

The beef negimaki (what some Americans have called "beef sushi rolls") is one of my favorites. It was prepared by mallet pounding a 1/2 inch thick slice of london broil (try to get a lean cut) until it was about 1/4 inch thick. I then cut the long slab into four pieces, rolled each around a bunch of fresh scallions, secured with short skewers, marinated, sauteed in vegetable and sesame oil until nice and seared on all sides, removed skewers, and sliced into little rolls. You can dip this in the tataki marinade if you like.

Bacon-Wrapped Shitake & Enoki Mushrooms

I featured this months ago on Kitchen Monkey, but this time it came out much better, partly because I added shitake to the enoki, and partly because I used center cut bacon, which has less fat and more meat on it. You can omit the enoki altogether if you can't find any, just slicethe shitake thin, group it together, wrap a strip of bacon around it, secure with toothpick, and grill or broil on both sides. Delicious.

Chicken Yakitori

These are done well on the grill, but you can use a broiler so long as you have a wire rack. Pieces of chicken breast or thigh are alternately broiled and dipped in a syrupy marinade similar to teriyaki sauce. After repeating the process a couple times, place on skewers with pieces of scallion, baste once more, and return to the broiler or grill until the chicken starts to darken on the edges.

Pork Tonkatsu

This is one of my favorite Japanese dishes. I started by cutting some deep slices into a beautiful pork loin chop (to keep it from curling), dredging it in a mixture of flour and white pepper, then whisked egg, then coating it in a thick layer of panko crumbs (Japanese bread crumbs that work amazingly well for a wide variety of foods.) Deep fry in vegetable oil (medium high heat) slice, and serve with cabbage (I was out of cabbage and chopped up a leftover endive), hot mustard, and tonkatsu sauce for dipping (vaguely similar to worcestshire sauce but fruitier).

Whew. That was a lot of meat for one sitting. I think it's veggie cous cous tonight.


megwoo said...

Your meat platter is amazing and impressive; you're sure to win the contest. The Bacon-Wrapped Shitake & Enoki Mushrooms are making me DROOL.

P.S. I love the new Kitchen Monkey header image.

Jason said...

I'd like to know a little more about your marinades and the sauce for the Yakitori. My last few tries at yakatori were well... less than successfull to say the least.


Kitchen Monkey said...

Happy to oblige, Jason. I can't give you mathematically precise measurements for the marinade, since I usually eye it, but this should be close enough.
If you're making yakitori for a number of people you'll want to double or even triple this.

3 Tbsp. shoyu (or light soy sauce)
3 Tbsp. sake
3 Tbsp. mirin
1 1/2 Tbsp. confectioner's sugar

1) Combine the first three ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. As it warms up, add the sugar and begin stirring with a wooden spoon until it dissolves.
2) Turn the heat up a bit more until it boils, then reduce to medium low heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, adding a little more sugar if you want the sauce thicker. I've seen recipes that call for castor (or superfine) sugar, but confectioner's sugar is easier to find and because of it's modicum of corn starch content tends to thicken the sauce nicely.
3) Cut the chicken into small pieces*, and dunk each of them in the sauce, then arrange on a wire rack (one small enough to keep the pieces from falling through) over a baking sheet and broil for a couple minutes.
4) Remove, and with a pair of tongs return each piece to the sauce, then back on the wire rack (other side of the pieces facing up this time) and under the broiler for a few more minutes. Repeat process once more, until the chicken is starting to brown. Then, and only then, do you add the pieces to the skewers, alternating with pieces of scallion. Baste once more with the sauce place the skewers on the wire rack and under the broiler until the edges of the pieces start to blacken just a tiny bit.
4) OR....you can just grill them shishkebab-style, basting now and then. However, 1) Some of us live in upstairs apartments and haven't the luxury of a grill, and 2) I have done these on the grill, and honestly, they turn out better using the broiler method I described above. More time consuming, yes, but very tasty.

*If you like, marinate the chicken pieces in the sauce (once the sauce has cooled) for an hour or so.

Hope this works for you.

drbiggles said...


Ya know, I had no idea where this contest was going. Made me kinda nervous, ya know? But after seeing Deb's & KM's entry, it's going to be great fun. KM ain't no slouch, that's fer sure.
I should have a page up today that will showcase all the entries. Neat.


Sam said...

I tried to make those bacon enoki things too, a while back, they must have been in a magazine. I somewhere have a pic of my failure which i never posted. they tasted good, just didn't look so great - maybe i need to try again. yours look so good! I did have an entry for the platter contest but since I saw yours and Deb's I think I might give up.
good work!

Kitchen Monkey said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kitchen Monkey said...

I'm flattered, but you concede too quickly: I believe Meathenge is offering three prizes. And I really think the secret to good bacon-wrapped enoki (or bacon-wrapped anything, for that matter) is center cut bacon.

Jason said...

Arigato gozaimasu

I slightly modded the enoki rolls myself. I dropped the shitake and added a sliver of silken tofu that I had left over from some soup I was making. It worked well. I have to agree with the center cut bacon choice. It is better than using regular bacon. I'll try the Yakitori recipe this weekend...


Dr. Jones said...

Heeeey there! I loved your entry in the meat platter contest. I would definitely love to try everything on it but the beef - no slight to your cookin', I just don't eat it.
I have one minor point to bring up with you regarding the mushrooms. As I'm sure you know, "Shiitake" is how you spell the name. It's pronounced /she talk, eh?/. When we as bloggers spell it 'shitaki' it contributes to all the folks out there mispronouncing it, like they do the word "sake". It's pronounced /sock, eh?/ not SAKEEE like so many people say.
Great blog and I hope to visit often.

Kitchen Monkey said...

Glad you like the blog Dr. FP! I'm familiar with the tendency of many Americans to mispronounce Japanese words, having worked in a Japanese restaurant for several years in the late 90s. The owner's name was Yuichi, but many customers (who thought they were being cool by "knowing the owner") would ask to see Luigi. Like it was an Italian restaurant.

Anyway, I was prepared to launch a defense in honor of spelling shitake with one 'i' since that is how we spelled it at the restaurant and that's how it is spelled at my local Japanese/Korean market, but both epicurious.com and dictionary.com say it should be spelled with two 'i's, so I suppose I stand corrected.

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