Asparagus is wrapped in thinly sliced beef, then cooked in flavoursome sauce. The sauce of the beef rolls is similar to teriyaki sauce so the flavour is guaranteed. Perfect for appetiser or as party food.
Instead of asparagus, you could use green beans or shallots. Or to give more colour to it, you could add carrots. Julienned burdock goes well with beef as well.
Traditional Japanese meat dishes often use thinly sliced meat. Because of this, butchers in Japan sell more sliced meet than big chunk of meat unlike Australia. When I came to Sydney, I learnt that the local butcher did not sell sliced meat at all.
If I wanted sliced meat, I had to go to the Japanese grocery store and buy a packet of frozen sliced meat. But they were quite expensive and at the time, I could not afford to buy them often.
So I had to learn how to turn a block of meat (tender meat cuts) into thin slices by hand. You’d have to make the meat half frozen so that you have a firm part of meat to slice thinly yet not too hard to cut through by hand.
If the meat is fresh, freeze it for a couple of hours and make the outside of the meat frozen. If the meat is already frozen, thaw half way, say about 1 – 1.5cm thawed from outside. Then use a sharp knife to slice thinly. Here is my attempt to slice the meat. (If you have an electric slicer, of course it’s a piece of cake!)
If you ended up too thick, don’t worry, pound each slice to make it thin at the same time tender! If each piece of sliced meat was too small, don’t worry, you can place 2-3 pieces next each other overlapping slightly to make it wide.
Nowadays, you could get sliced meat at any Asian grocery stores and you may not need to slice meat by yourself. But I found that some frozen sliced meat you get at Asian grocery stores are not of good quality and they don’t come with large pieces.
I recently bought a pack of sliced beef at the Asian grocery store near by, trying to make Beef Rolls for this post. It looked good in a frozen pack but when I opened it after thawed, it was a pile of small bits and pieces and it was almost impossible to make a roll with the beef slices. If you could find a pack of sliced meat for sukiyaki or shabu-shabu, you will find that each piece of meat is not too small to use for this dish.
This dish is great as an appetiser or a party food. If you are entertaining, place the rolls upright on a plate to show the round green of asparagus surrounded by brown beef. Make sure that you use a light coloured plate to enhance the colour combination of the food.
P.S. You will notice in the first photos that some rolls on the second plate have only two asparagus stems in it. That’s because I accidentally ate one stem before making it! I just wanted to check the tenderness of the asparagus… I remember Nagi telling me that she always cooks extra just in case. She is so right about it! Lessons learnt.
- 6 thin slices of beef (about 160-200g/6-7oz in total, Wagyu beef if possible, Note 1)
- 9 asparagus stems , moderate thickness
- 1 tbsp Cooking Oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp sake
Remove hard part of the asparagus stem at lower end and cut into half length each (Note 3).
Boil water in a pan, add a pinch of salt and par boil asparagus for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Drain.
Spread a beef slice on a cutting board, place 3 pieces of asparagus at the end closer to you and roll forward. The asparagus should be wrapped in 2 layers of the beef.
Repeat and wrap the rest of the asparagus with beef. This will make 6 uncooked beef rolls.
Heat a frying pan with oil over medium high heat. Add beef rolls and cook, rolling them occasionally to brown beef rolls evenly. When surface of the beef is slightly burnt all over (a couple of minutes), remove excess oil with kitchen paper as the sauce will not coat the beef well if there is too much oil.
Add Sauce ingredients to the pan and coat the beef roll with the sauce.
When the sauce is almost evaporated, turn the heat off and remove the beef rolls onto a cutting board.
Cut each roll into 3 or 4cm (1¼-1½") depending on the length of the roll and your preference. Place the rolls upright on a plate and serve. (Note 4)
1. You can buy sliced beef at Asian grocery stores. You might find sliced beef made specifically for sukiyaki or shabu-shabu. I find that beef slices for sukiyaki is easier to handle as shabu-shabu slices are paper thin. But if the slices are paper thin, you could layer more slices to make the beef thicker when rolled.
The slices I used was about 8-10cm wide, 20 cm long each. The width was just right for the half length asparagus. If your slices are smaller, you can overlap pieces to make to a similar size, or to match with the length of asparagus.
If you don’t have access to sliced beef, you can make your own. Buy a block of beef meat (tender meat cuts) and freeze it for a couple of hours until the meat is half frozen. Then slice them with a sharp knife to about 2mm thickness.
If the slice is too thick, pound it and make it thin. If you have a meat slicer, that will be easier, of course.
2. If you prefer sweeter flavour, you could add up to 1 teaspoon of sugar to the sauce.
3. If the asparagus is very thick, cut the stem vertically into half or quarter after cutting the stem into half length. In which case, you would probably need less number of stems.
4. I cut the roll into three pieces. To place them upright, I also trimmed the edge but for home cooking, you needn’t to do that. You can even place them like logs, instead of upright position. Or slice diagonally for a change.