So you’ve got a handle on making donburis now right? You know, make rice, put stuff on top of it? Yeah, that.

Time to graduate to the next level, which involves cooking by simmering some or all of the ingredients in a flavorful liquid. It’s easy, trust me.

Here’s a simple method to making the Japanese classic, gyudon (beef bowl.)

Like so many dinners I make, it started with sauteing an onion and a red pepper in sesame oil.

While those were softening up, I got to work on making a stock to simmer the beef in. I put one small piece of kombu seaweed in a pan with enough water to cover. Kombu is the seaweed you use to make dashi stock, and while I haven’t seen it at any of the major grocery stores, it’s pretty accessible in any health food store, asian market, and I think I’ve even seen it at Whole Foods before. It’s ok if you don’t wanna track it down though, I’ve found that a small handful of dulse works pretty well and is more widely available, but you can do without seaweed entirely and still make a tasty dish.

I let that come up to a simmer for a few minutes before removing it. Don’t ever boil kombu, it makes the broth really slimy if it gets too hot. Just gently steep it like you’re making tea.

Next, I flavored it with miso.  This “red” miso, as opposed to your standard “white” or “mellow” miso, is just what I happened to have on hand.  Any kind you can get your hands on is fine.

I added a big dollop like this…

…and whisked it into the hot liquid.

It’s like a lava lamp watching the miso roil away in the hot broth.

At that point I took some strips of flank steak that had been marinating for a few hours in soy sauce, mirin, and rice vinegar, and swirled them around in the broth to partially cook.

This is the fun part. Turn up the heat on both pans to medium high. As the beef gets cooked through, start transferring it to the veggie pan along with a ladle-full of the broth. As the pan of broth boils away getting more and more concentrated, your veggies are soaking up their own broth and quickly about to start burning on the pan. Add another ladle of broth and wait for the meat and veggies to soak it all up before doing it again. When everything is cooked through and coated in a sweet glaze made by the concentrated broth, cut the heat and serve it up!

You can serve this over sushi rice or plain white rice. Don’t forget to spoon over some more of the delicious cooking liquid and garnish with sesame seeds!

Whatever you do, don’t throw out the remaining broth. It makes a delicious soup base to add mushrooms, scallions, and noodles to. I’ve got some in my freezer right now saved up for a rainy day.

This was one of those dishes that had us saying “Mmmm” the whole time we were eating it. Definitely one for the “make over and over again” file!

Beef gyudon

A simple take on a Japanese classic. Thinly sliced beef in a rich sauce with peppers and onions.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 2 servings


  • 2 portions flank steak (sliced thinly)
  • 1 small red bell pepper
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 medium piece kombu seaweed (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. miso
  • 1 tbsp. each soy sauce, rice vinegar, and mirin
  • sesame oil for sauteing

Cooking Directions

  1. Let steak marinate in soy sauce, mirin, and rice vinegar.
  2. Fill a pan 1/2 way up with water and slowly heat kombu in it. Remove kombu before it boils.
  3. Saute peppers and onions in a separate pan until starting to soften.
  4. Add steak to seaweed water along with marinade and allow to cook through.
  5. Add steak to peppers and onions along with some of the liquid.
  6. As the liquid gets soaked up, add more several times until a rich sauce is formed.
  7. Serve over rice and top with toasted sesame seeds if desired.