Japanese Ginger-Soy Steak Sauce

Dipping slice of steak in Japanese ginger-soy steak dipping sauce

‘Tis the season to dust off the BBQ and grill up some steaks, and the only thing that will make them taste even more sublime is this yum of a dipping sauce! In Japan, bite-sized slices of steak are grilled at the table, then dipped in this savory sauce that zings with just a hint of ginger. But it tastes just as good if you carve off a bite of Western-syle BBQed steak, and dip it into the sauce before popping it in your mouth. Try it tonight, and see why this is Japanese families’ go-to “celebration dinner”!

Japanese Ginger-Soy Steak Sauce

Ginger-Soy dipping sauce

Serves: 6

Note: This is very quick to make, but do it enough in advance that you can allow an hour of cooling time with the ginger pieces in it, so the flavor completely infuses the sauce.

¾ c. (177ml) mirin + ¼ c. (60ml) mirin

¾ c. (177ml) sake

4.5 T. (50ml) soy sauce

1 T. (12g) sugar

1 thumb of ginger, peeled and sliced thin

2 t. (5g) cornstarch

Stir together soy sauce, sake, sugar, and ¾ c. (177ml) mirin in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add ginger and reduce heat to a gentle boil. Boil uncovered for 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 1 hour, with ginger pieces still in it.

Strain ginger pieces from sauce and bring to a boil again. Whisk cornstarch into ¼ c. (60ml) mirin and stir into boiling sauce. Cook for two minutes, then remove from heat. Cool to room temperature and serve.

Slicing fresh ginger
Peel the ginger and cut it like this. The piece you see here is about the right amount to put in. It looks like a lot, but don’t worry-—the flavor won’t be too strong or spicy, because you take out the slices of ginger after they infuse the sauce

Japanese Style Yakiniku Lettuce Wraps

Eat it “Western style” by dipping a bite of steak in the sauce before eating…

Or, enjoy it the traditional Japanese way, in a lettuce wrap with miso sauce on top!

Japanese yakiniku with lettuce, miso sauce, steak and ginger-soy dipping sauce

These amounts are per person—multiply by however many you are serving.

4 oz. (100g) top quality ribeye or filet mignon

3-4 leaves of green lettuce (any variety except very stiff ones like romaine or endive will do, but butter lettuce most closely resembles the kind they use in Japan)

Miso Sauce

Soy-ginger Dipping Sauce

How to eat:

Wash and pat dry one leaf of lettuce for each wrap. Spread about a teaspoon of miso down the center rib of the lettuce. Dip two bites of steak in yakiniku dipping sauce and place them in the middle of the lettuce. Wrap lettuce around the meat and eat like a burrito.

Eating yakiniku rolled in lettuce leaf
In my eagerness to make the picture look good, I put on wa-a-a-a-y too much miso sauce! A little goes a long way, and these taste better if you don’t overpower the flavor of the soy-ginger dipping sauce

Here’s how to cut the meat for grilling at the table:

Slicing steak for yakiniku
If you’re slicing steaks for grilling bite-sized pieces at the table, buy the thickest ribeyes or filets that you can get, cut them in half and then turn the pieces on their sides and make thin slices, across the grain. They are best if the meat fibers go from top to bottom of the slice’s thickness.

To make the Miso Sauce:

Miso Sauce for yakiniku

Makes enough for 8 lettuce wraps

2 T. (60g) white miso

2 T. (60g) red miso

1 T. (30ml) mirin (sweet rice wine)

1 T. (30ml) sake

1 T. (30g) sugar

Stir all together in a small saucepan until well blended. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Remove from stove and cool to room temperature.

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Jonelle Patrick writes mystery novels set in Tokyo, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

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