Japanese beef cubes with fried garlic and shredded cabbage
A member of the SCMP family
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Japanese beef cubes with fried garlic and shredded cabbage


Susan says

This is a dish I used to eat for lunch at Japanese restaurants, until I realised it's easy to cook at home. It can be homey or luxurious, depending on the beef you choose. Supermarket beef is fine for most occasions (although it's essential that you don't overcook it), but if you want to treat yourself and your guests, choose a well-marbled piece of Japanese or Korean beef. I use cuts such as rump or strip loin, which have a deeper, beefier flavour than the more expensive but milder-tasting filet mignon.

For the beef cubes
400-500g (14-17¾oz)
beef steak, about 2cm (⅞inch) thick
large garlic cloves, peeled
fine sea salt
cooking oil, for pan-frying
For the sauce
30ml (2tbsp)
light soy sauce
20ml (4tsp)
sake or Chinese rice wine (or substitute dry sherry)
10g (2tsp)
granulated sugar
10ml (2tsp)
sesame oil
For serving
enough for two
Steamed Japanese rice
green head cabbage, preferably Japanese
Kewpie mayonnaise
Shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven spice powder), or use toasted sesame seeds and a small amount of chilli flakes
Furikake (Japanese rice sprinkles), optional

Cut the beef into 2cm (⅞ inch) cubes, sprinkle them lightly with salt and mix well. Set this aside while preparing the other ingredients.


Thinly slice the garlic cloves. Lightly oil a skillet (preferably un-enamelled cast iron) and place it over a medium-low flame. Scatter the sliced garlic into the pan and use chopsticks (or small tongs) to place the pieces in one layer. Cook the garlic until pale golden on one side, then turn the slices over and brown the other side. Don’t let the garlic get too dark, or the flavour will be bitter, and adjust the flame under the pan as needed so the pieces don’t cook too quickly. When the garlic is pale golden and crisp, remove the slices from the skillet.


Thinly slice the cabbage and divide between two serving plates. Put all the ingredients for the sauce in a small sauce­pan and place it over a medium flame. Bring to the boil then lower the heat and cook at a low simmer until the ingredients reduce to a light sauce consistency. Turn off the flame.


instructions image

Place the skillet used to cook the garlic over a medium-high flame (no need to wash the pan). Lightly oil the skillet and after about 90 seconds, when the oil is hot, add the cubes of meat. Sear the meat, turning the pieces over so they brown on all sides, cooking them quickly so they do not become overdone. Divide the meat between the plates.


Quickly re-heat the sauce, bringing it to a simmer. Drizzle the sauce over the beef cubes, then scatter the garlic slices on top. Squirt a blob of kewpie mayonnaise on the plates and dust it lightly with shichimi togarashi. Serve the meat and cabbage with a bowl of steamed Japanese rice that’s been sprinkled with furikake. Serve immediately.


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