For most of the country, summertime is the prime season for grilling up a juicy steak. Unfortunately, like 95% of New Yorkers, I don’t live in an apartment with outdoor space of any kind. But that’s not too much of a hindrance, since cooking steaks on the stovetop is often easier and quicker than on the grill.
Last week I had a huge craving for steak teriyaki and decided to consult Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art, often thought to be the bible on Japanese cooking. The book has a basic recipe for steak with teriyaki sauce, to which I added a few extras such as mushrooms and shallots. (As a product of French culinary training, I instinctively need to add mushrooms and shallots to most steak dishes.)
A good teriyaki dish, whether it’s steak, chicken, or salmon, relies on just a few ingredients to create the deep, complex flavor. You really just need three main ingredients: sake, mirin, and dark soy sauce. The sake helps release the lovely pan juices that result from searing your meat. Dark soy sauce, which is actually less salty than regular soy sauce, is used for both color and savoriness. (If you substitute regular soy sauce, just note it will be a tiny bit saltier.) And mirin, a sweetened Japanese rice wine, helps balance the saltiness with just the right about of sweetness.
One of my favorite steaks to cook with is flatiron steak, a very tender and flavorful cut with a good amount of marbling. However, it is sometimes a little difficult to find unless you go to a good butcher. Flank steak and sirloin steak also work well (just be sure they are about 1-inch or 1 1/4-inch thick.)
The great part about this dish is that you don’t need to marinate the meat. Just sprinkle a bit of salt on both sides to extract extra juices, sear them in the pan, and reduce the sauce to a glaze. The vegetables cook on the side and top off the steak at the end.
You can serve this with pretty much anything on the side. Rice works well if you’re going with an Asian-style dinner. Or blanched green beans if you’re keen to eat it Western-style, as I did. Or broccoli rabe, sautéed spinach, or kale.
And maybe a nice semi-sweet bottle of red wine to wash the steak down…
Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as part of a multi-course meal
- 1 1/2 pounds flatiron, flank, or sirloin steaks about 1-inch or 1 1/4-inch thick
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup sake
- 3 tablespoons mirin
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced for garnish
- 1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
- Salt the steaks lightly on both sides to season and extract juices.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Sauté the mushrooms and shallot for about 4 to 5 minutes, until the mushrooms and well-cooked. Set aside.
- Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high or high heat. Carefully place the steaks in the pan and brown on one side uncovered, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the steaks and brown on the other side for another 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium. Splash on the sake, cover the pan, and allow the steaks to cook for another 2 to 3 minutes for medium doneness. (Add a few more minutes for medium-well or well done.)
- Transfer the steaks to a plate and set aside. Add the mirin and dark soy sauce to the meat juices and sake in the pan. Cook uncovered for another 1 to 2 minutes as the meat glaze thickens (forming the teriyaki sauce). Return the steaks to the pan to coat with the sauce, about 30 seconds more on each side.
- You can either serve the steaks whole or cut them against the grain into 1/2-inch slices. Spoon over with the rest of the teriyaki sauce, the mushrooms, and the shallots. Sprinkle the sesame seeds and scallions on top and serve.