Beef tataki with simple ponzu sauce is a great Japanese dish to share with friends. If you like Japanese, you are going to love this.
Tataki is anything that is flash seared and thinly sliced. You can do it with fish but here it’s beef. It’s great any way you do it though.
Traditionally I think it’s supposed to be served with ginger. So this isn’t super authentic. I went for maximum flavour here instead.
Ponzu sauce is this magic citrus soy sauce stuff. Super simple to make and super delicious. Japanese food is like that. Understated but so nuanced.
Choice of beef matters
There’s nowhere to hide in this recipe. Beef tataki is beef cooked perfectly rare with a simple sauce. So the beef you pick is going to drive your results.
You have a choices. Tenderloin has the texture. Soft and almost buttery. But I like top sirloin here. Still tender when thinly sliced. And a more beefy flavour. When your dish is beef and sauce I go for beefy flavour.
And quality matters hear too. This is not a recipe for ho-hum supermarket beef. This is a trip to the butcher to get the best beef you can recipe. More work but worth it.
Beef tataki sous vide style
If you want to make consistently perfect beef tataki – the way restaurants do – then sous vide is something you need to learn. Unless you are the absolute steak cooking ninja there is no better way.
Sous vide isn’t trendy. Not hipster. It isn’t molecular gastronomy. It is how how the pros do it. How it’s been done in fine restaurants forever.
It’s repeatable. Consistent. It just works. The only thing that has changed is now you can get set up for a couple hundred bucks. Sound expensive? 10 years ago it was a few grand.
And you can do tons of stuff with it. It’s not just for steak. Eggs. Duck confit. Fish. Carnitas. Lots.
Beef tataki is best when you get a sear on the outside and evenly done rare beef on the inside. That’s why it works so well using sous vide.
And you can serve it last minute. Sous vide the beef. Let it sit until it’s time to eat. Toss it back in the sous vide to warm through. Heat a pan. Sear. Slice. Drizzle with ponzu sauce. Serve.
The technique is universal. Grilled. Pan-fried. Any way you can imagine. If it’s steak this is a great way to get that perfectly done from edge to edge result. Like the pros.
A dish for friends
I love this dish as a shared appetizer. Put a plate down. Pass around the chopsticks. Eat family style. Like you would in a restaurant.
Beef tataki with simple ponzu sauce. A perfect start to your next Asian themed dinner party
- 12-14 oz good quality top sirloin - cut 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick. You don't want your sear to cook the steak too much.
- 2-3 green onions
Simple ponzu sauce
- 1 1/2 Tbsp sake
- 2 tsp mirin
- 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp water
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice - good or a combination of lemon and lime juice (better), strained
Sous vide the steak and cook the steaks
- Salt the steaks liberally.
- Use a food saver to shrink wrap the steaks.
- Pre-heat your sous vide to 116 degrees. See below for guidelines on temperature vs. level of doneness.
- Immerse the shrink wrapped steaks in the water and let it cook for about 90-110 minutes.
- Remove the steaks from the water bath.
- Heat a sturdy skillet large enough to hold the steak in a single layer over medium high heat.
- Add about 1 Tbsp of vegetable or peanut oil.
- Sprinkle the steaks with black pepper to taste. A nice crust of butcher's grind pepper is nice. Not particularly Japanese but nice.
- Sear the steaks one one side for about 20 seconds. Flip and cook on the other side for 20 seconds. Repeat on each side for a total of about 80 seconds.
- Sear the sides (stand the steaks up) about 20 seconds on each of the long sides.
- Let rest 5 minutes.
Make the simple ponzu sauce
- Combine the sake and mirin in a small sauce pan and simmer for 1 minute.
- Add the remaining ingredients and stir.
Prep the green onions
- Here's a trick that food bloggers don't advertise. If you want those nifty curled green onions it's easy.
- Julienne the green part of a couple green onions.
- Immerse the julienned green onion in a small bowl of ice and water.
- Stir them around a bit with your finger to get them unstuck from each other.
- Let stand about 20 minutes.
- Drain and blot on paper towel.
- That's it. Now you know.
Serve the beef tataki
- Slice the beef thinly. Try to get as close to across the grain as you can. If you have a nice Japanese knife this is a good place to use it.
- Fan the beef out. Garnish with thin slices of the white portion of a green onion along with the curled green onion.
- Drizzle with ponzu sauce.
- Serve with additional ponzu sauce.
116-118F for bloody rare
122 for rare - end target 125
128 for medium rare - end target 130
133 for medium
More than medium you don't need to learn sous vide. Just cook your beef as you always have. Consider trying it done less sometime if you are feeling brave. You are missing out.