Picnics at Kapiolani Park. Tailgaiting at Aloha Stadium. Firing up the hibachi at Grandpa and Grandma’s house. What goes best with all of these things? You can fill in the blank here, but for me, it would be teriyaki beef. Not kal bi (marinated Korean-style shortribs), though these are wonderful too. And not thick juicy steaks, though I have no complaints with these either. I’m talking about authentic thin-cut slices of teriyaki beef, perfectly grilled until the marbled fat that winds through them starts to sizzle and take on a tantalizing caramel brown color. Nothing spells s-u-m-m-e-r outdoor fun like these “leave your knife and fork at home” cuts of meat. You can get teri beef at most Hawaiian style plate lunch restaurants, and you’ll often find them skewered on sticks at saimin (Japanese noodle soup) establishments. But I think they taste the best when you make them yourself, and eat them as soon as they come off the grill.The internet offers few recipes for good teriyaki beef like we’re used to in Hawaii (I tried searching for “beef teriyaki,” “teriyaki beef,” “teri beef,” etc.). Fortunately, my Aunty J. gave me her recipe for teriyaki marinade, which is equally good with beef and chicken. The recipe was a part of one of my most treasured bridal shower gifts – a collection of recipe cards and marriage advice from my aunties and cousins – assembled in a beautiful, bound recipe binder by my Aunty P. I look at through this binder several times a month, and it always makes me feel closer to home. Thanks again, Aunty P!
Aunty J.’s ratio of sugar to soy sauce is PERFECTION, and the sugar gives the marinade a thicker consistency than bottled teriyaki marinades you’d find at the supermarket. Why do you care about a thicker marinade? For starters, it will stick to your meat more, so you will not need to marinate for hours and hours. And, the sugar caramelizes on the meat when you grill it, sending the tastiness factor of this teri beef through the roof.
Once you’ve got your marinade down, the next question becomes: what cut of beef? The general consensus in my immediate family is that Grandma B. makes one of the best teri beef, and she uses rib eye. Her local butcher used to slice the rib eye thin for her. I’ve also tried slicing it myself, into approximately ¼” thick slices; it helps if the rib eye is a little bit frozen.
Teriyaki Beef (adapted from Aunty J.’s recipe), about four servings
1 1/4 – 1 1/2 pounds rib eye steak, about two steaks, cut into 1/4″-thick slices (slightly frozen meat is easier to cut)
1 cup soy sauce
2/3 cup sugar
1″ piece of ginger, smashed, and sliced
2 large (or 3 medium) cloves of garlic, smashed and sliced
1 stalk of green onion (white and green parts), chopped
AboutI like Zip mins, spam musubi, and the butterfish misoyaki at The Cal. I've never been a fan of the loco moco but, now that I'm 3000 miles from my hometown of Honolulu, Hawaii, nearly everything from the islands makes me salivate. I currently live (and cook) in the San Francisco bay area, and have inevitably fallen in with "buying local" and organically-grown foods. I enjoy recreating the foods I grew up with - recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation in my family. And, as a working home cook, I try to prepare a lot of fast and healthful meals. Part recipe book, part cultural memoire, and travel journal, here is where I document all of my gastronomical experiences. I think of my kitchen as a blend of past and present, and I believe that where we call home is what we serve on our plates.