Sesame flavored beef


I don’t have a lot of red meat recipes here, especially not beef. The biggest reason for this is that beef is the most expensive cut of meat usually, and I’m all about making bentos that are economical. But I do use beef sometimes, and one of my favorite ways is to treat it as I do in this recipe - quickly stir-fried, salty-sweet and tender strips of beef flavored with sesame oil.

I use a cut called ‘minute steak’ around here; it’s basically a thinly cut piece of lean beef. Such cuts of beef are called different things in different countries, so just buy a flat piece of beef that could be used as a thin steak or cut up in a stir fry. (In the U.S., thinly sliced steak meat for Philly cheesesteaks works well. Trader Joe’s has fairly inexpensive packs of thinly sliced beef offcuts that would work great for this.)

If your piece of beef is more than 1/3 inch / 1 cm or so thick, put it between two sheets of kitchen parchment paper or in a plastic bag and pound it thin with a meat mallet, rolling pin or the side of a heavy knife. This tenderizes an inexpensive cut of meat, and also makes it cook a lot faster.

Recipe: Sesame flavored beef

For 2 to 3 portions

  • 200g / about 7-8 oz. thinly cut beef
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. mirin
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. + 1 tsp. sesame oil

Slice the beef (after pounding if necessary) across the grain into thin strips. (The grain is the direction in which the meat muscles run - you want to cut the meat perpendicular to that.) Put into a bowl, and add all the other ingredients except for the 1 tsp. of sesame oil. Massage the meat with your hands to rub in the marinade.

You can cook this right away, or leave it for a little while or even overnight.

Heat up a frying pan and add the remaining 1 tsp. of sesame oil. Add the beef to the hot pan and stir-fry for a couple of minutes until done. It should be just a bit syrupy, and an appetizing dark brown.

You can marinate this the night before and cook it in the morning (this is ideal), or cook it the night before.


You can change up the oil to give this a different flavor. For instance, try olive oil, salt, rosemary and a tiny bit of garlic for Mediterranean flavored beef. Massaging in the a little oil serves to make lean cuts more tender and juicy.

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Every once in a while I

Every once in a while I splurge on beef. Thanks for posting this! (I have so few beef recipes. )

I love Minute Steak!

Thanks for posting this Maki, I’ll definitely try this recipe!

I actually discovered Minute Steak just the other day, when the craving hit for some beef stir fry. I went to my local organic grocer and bought two small slices of Minute Steak—one to cook and one to freeze for later. It amounted to a little less than $5 for about half a pound. Not sure if that is expensive, but the meat was very good quality. And I was able to stretch one Minute Steak into a full meal, by adding tons of delicious veggies and pouring the whole thing over white rice.

My mother’s trick for tender beef: stir-fry it twice. Cook the meat first, and then spoon it out and let it “rest” while you’re cooking up the vegetables. Then dump the beef back in and pan fry some more. It tastes just like restaurant beef, every time!

Thank you Maki!

I found this web site about 2 months ago and absolutely love it! I enjoy going through the recipes and like what I see. The sad part…. I have yet to cook any of it! I want to of course but just don’t have the time(college student). But I will soon. I love the look of this one too! Thanks for keeping up the website, really appreciate it.

This looks delicious!

When I was growing up, my mom didn’t often have a lot of money for beef. But she would often pick up a minute steak. She would cut it in strips (just like in the recipe above), and quickly stir fry it with a little olive oil and a handful of whole garlic cloves. Just whack the cloves enough to break the skin, then peel them and toss into the pan when the steak goes in. We are garlic lovers, so she would usually use a whole head, and we’d eat the hot cooked garlic cloves, too. Usually served with something simple, rice and a vegetable. It remains a comfort food for me even now, and I’m excited to try this variation!

Lucky in Texas

Beef is a little more expensive than chicken in Texas, but it’s not cost prohibitive. We can still eat beef as regularly as our health would permit. I just prefer chicken and fish (which is crazy expensive!), so I only eat beef once or twice a week. I tried this recipe, and it’s great. I wanted it to have even more sesame flavor (nothing subtle about me), so I sprinkled toasted sesame seeds on top. Delicious… Thanks for the recipe!

We tried this tonight - it

We tried this tonight - it was so yummy!

Subbing meat

Hi Maki! I love your site. It is chock-full of information and not at all intimidating for newbies to Japanese cooking like me. This looks good. Do you think I could substitute seitan strips successfully?

Thanks, chely

Seitan should be great with

Seitan should be great with this method. You may want to add a tad more soy sauce and sesame oil.

Salad dressing to match?

I was thinking of making this for our kiddo’s lunch and wanted to see if you had any suggestions for a salad dressing to accompany this. (thinking of serving this up in a butter lettuce cup)

Hmm…any miso dressing that you can suggest? I know that House Foods/The Curry house make their own that they sell.

Anyhow, I’m addicted and love your website!!!! Thank you for starting this site. It’s saved us tons of $

That was oishii!

I made this tonight and added some renkon slices (cut in half and cooked about halfway before I added them.) Too bad there isn’t any left for bento tomorrow, we seem to have that problem in our house! When it’s really good, we keep picking at it until it’s gone and it’s back to going out for lunch the next day! I know you are supposed to cook it fresh in the morning, but that’s just not going to happen in our house!

Re: Sesame flavored beef

Thanks you!!!

I made this tonight..Enough for dinner tonight and lunch in my Bento tomorrow. I cant wait to try more of your recipes:) Next will be your Soboro recipes on the JH site

Re: Sesame flavored beef

can i substitute mirin with something else? or can i just dont use it?

Re: Sesame flavored beef

A dry Riesling or other dry white wine. In the cases of beef and wild game, bourbon or beer are also good. Mirin is mildly sweet and I like dry types of wines for cooking and for drinking.

Thank you for posting this. Beef is a staple of my diet and I'm always looking for new ways to cook it. Beef here is very cheap and I eat it pretty often.

Re: Sesame flavored beef

Try this one too for honey beef..

Season some lean beef mince with salt and pepper

Chop up some fresh chilli, garlic and ginger and then fry in some sesame oil

add the mince and fry together. At this point add a generous amount of HONEY and stir in.

The result is a sweet and spicy beef that can be eaten with rice.

Re: Sesame flavored beef

are there step by step pictures im really bad at understanding recipes thats when untill now i could only go with kid cook books
*bows head in shame

Re: Sesame flavored beef

Does this freeze well?

Re: Sesame flavored beef

It freezes fine, but just be careful when you are defrosting it not to overcook it in the microwave, or the beef may get tough.

Re: Sesame flavored beef

I've made this a few times now . . . absolutely delicious, and so easy! The only bad thing is that it never stays very long in my fridge. ;)

Re: Sesame flavored beef

Do you drain the marinade from the beef before frying, or do you need it in the pan to make the sauce?

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