Happy Donabe Life

Beef Bowl


Gyu-Don, or beef bowl, is one of the most popular rice bowl dishes in Japan. It’s basically soy-flavored and slightly sweet simmered thin beef slices over rice. Here in LA where I live now, unless I take a trip to a Japanese market, I can’t get very thinly sliced beef at a regular market like in Japan. So, I usually get a block of boneless beef short rib and hand-slice it very thinly myself. I actually find this hand-cut version better than the other. The meat is simmered with onion in donabe for about half an hour and the result is such tender and flavorful beef. Donabe can bring out all the umami flavors cooked in it and become quite magical.


Miso-shiru Nabe or any thick-body donabe is recommended.

Kamado-san is used for cooking rice




  • 1 pound (450 g) boneless beef short rib block, very thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons sake
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 medium-large onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 oz (30 g) ginger, cut into very thin shreds
  • 2 tablespoons raw brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 5 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) dashi or water
  • Egg yolks and ground sansho (Japanese mountain pepper, optional)
  • Some freshly-cooked white rice or brown rice 


  1. Combine the beef with 2 tablespoons sake in a bowl. Let the beef marinate for a few hours to overnight (if you don’t have time, just 30 min is fine).
  2. Heat the sesame oil in a donabe over medium heat and add the onion. Sauté for a few minutes. Turn down the heat to low and continue to sauté for 10 – 15 minutes or until the onion is very soft. Meanwhile, cover with lid, and stir occasionally.
  3. Add the ginger and stir for a minute or so. Then, add the remaining (2 tablespoons) sake, sugar, mirin, soy sauce, and dashi. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the beef and stir to break the pieces apart. Cover with the lid and bring back to a boil.
  5. Turn down the heat to simmer, and skim any scum. Place an otoshibuta (drop lid) or a piece of aluminum foil on the surface. Cover with the lid again and simmer over medium-low heat for 30 – 45 minutes or until the broth is reduced to low.
  6. Remove from the heat. Serve over freshly-cooked rice in a bowl. Drop an egg yolk in the center and sprinkle some sansho, if you like.

A recipe video is also available on my YouTube Channel, Happy Donabe Life!


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