Beef and scallions shine in this classic Japanese-American restaurant favorite.
Negimaki is just six ingredients: beef, scallions, soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar. The simplicity is actually quite sophisticated thanks to the many layers of technique: slicing the beef, blanching the scallions, rolling them into maki, securing those rolls, marinating, turning the marinade into a lacquer, and finally slicing and glazing the negimaki. Don't let this laundry list of tasks deter you! If you try this and follow the procedure, you will be successful and sated! It's all about technique, NOT torture.
Essential equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; large saucepan or Dutch oven; large mixing bowl; measuring spoons; wet measuring cup; nonreactive casserole dish; plastic wrap; kitchen twine or toothpicks; pastry brush; large nonstick sauté pan or grill; tongs; small saucepan; spoon
Ingredients: 1-1.5 pounds flank steak 3 bunches scallion, roots and tops trimmed and discarded
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup mirin
1/3 cup sake
2 tablespoons sugar
1. Place the flank steak in the freezer for 30 minutes to make it easier to slice.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the scallions. Fill a large mixing bowl halfway with ice water. Heat salted water in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. When the water comes to a boil, submerge the scallions in the water for 30-45 seconds, until wilted. Remove the scallions with a tong and plunge in the bowl of ice water for 2-3 minutes. Drain the chilled scallions on paper towels and set aside.
"Blanching the scallions is not essential, but it is the ILOC way. Blanching removes the sharpness of green onion without taking away any of its flavor, all the while ensuring that each bite of negimaki with have a tender center."
3. Prepare the marinade by combining the soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar. Set aside.
ILOC tip: if you are not inclined to use sake, use 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar in its place. And don't be shy about making more: this recipe doubles easily.
3. Remove the flank steak from the freezer. It should be quite firm, but not at all frozen, making it easier to slice. Following the grain, slice the flank steak--with your knife at a 30-degree angle--into thin slices. Set aside.
ILOC tip: if you are concerned that your steak slices are too thick, you certainly may pound them with a meat mallet to flatten them a bit.
4. Place a rectangular piece of plastic wrap on the cutting board or counter. Lay four slices of flank steak across the plastic wrap, one slightly overlapping the other, to form one mass of steak. Season generously with kosher salt. Gather 6 scallions (3 facing one way and 3 facing the other way) and place them across the layered steak, perpendicular to the grain of the meat. Roll the meat around the scallions until you form a log. Secure with 4 pieces of twine or 4 toothpicks. Repeat with the remaining meat and scallions.
5. Place the secured rolls in a nonreactive casserole and cover with the marinade. Marinate for at least 15 minutes up to one hour (if you plan to marinate for more than 15 minutes, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator), turning halfway through the process.
6. When you are ready to cook the negimaki, remove the rolls from the marinade and pat dry. Set aside.
7. Pour the marinade into a small saucepan and boil gently over moderate heat until reduced to a syrup.
"Marinade that has been boiled and reduced is safe to eat because the high heat and cooking process have killed any potential bacteria."
8. Heat a large nonstick pan or a grill. Brush the rolls with vegetable oil on all sides and place in the hot pan or on the grill (if the former, be sure not to crowd the pan; cook in batches if necessary). Cook for 3-4 minutes before turning. Once turned, brush the cooked side of the meat with some of the reduced marinade. For rare negimaki, cook on two sides for 6-8 minutes total. For medium negimaki, cook for 12 minutes total on three or four sides, being sure to brush each side with sauce.
9. Remove from the cooking surface and allow to rest on a cutting board, covered loosely with foil to keep warm, for 5 minutes.
10. Remove the twine or toothpicks and slice into 1-inch slices, just like maki. Pour some of the sauce on a plate, placing the negimaki pieces on top. Drizzle with more sauce, if desired. Serve immediately.
Makes 3-4 servings.