Roll with It

True, the bamboo mat that’s part of a sushi kit is perfectly applied to its task, though so too is wrapping thinly-pounded steak around fresh vegetables in preparation for the grill.  This forms an egg roll of sorts, though with flamed steak filling in quite nicely for the outer shell.  Here’s a roll set on the mat, waiting to fulfil its cigar-shaped mission:Rolling Negimaki

After things take shape, the rolls are secured with toothpicks and are seared over a medium-high flame while being basted with a savory reduction of soy sauce and sake.  After the steak in turn bastes and cook the vegetables, the assembly is pulled from the grill and is sliced into bite-size pieces perfect for chopsticks…or fingers:Slicing Negimaki

This is negimaki, a Japanese specialty that presents grilled steak and vegetables in a compact, neat little package that’s just made for dipping in even more of the luscious sauce, as represented in this week’s main photo.  It’s ever-so-exquisitely-Japanese a preparation.

It’s what most appealed when Cook’s Illustrated featured instructions in the September/October 2018 issue.  That, and the fact that it looked wonderfully delicious.  It meets those expectations and more.

Steak is superlative, of course, and nothing more needs to be written about it.  However, it soars even higher when the right vegetables accent it, and in this they do, and doubly so.  For one thing, snow peas are served alongside.  Steamed, then sautéed in soy sauce, grated ginger and grated garlic,  they’re a crispy and subtly spirited companion.

Then there are the vegetables rolled up in the steak itself.  As mentioned earlier, the steak bastes them with succulence as they both grill, and what emerges is tender, yet still crispy.  In addition to the scallions the recipe specifies, carrots and white asparagus also are included.  These add nice flavor and, nearly as important, they contribute a nice variety of colors.  Just look at that cross-section!

Sure, the sushi kit is designed for a specific task, and serves it quite well, but when it’s pressed into service to help create negimaki, it realizes its full potential.  A wonderfully delicious reward for elevating a tool beyond unitasking.



(Japanese Grilled Steak and Scallion Rolls)

  • 2-pound flank steak, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons mirin
  • 3 tablespoons sake
  • 8 scallions, trimmed and halved lengthwise (*1)
  • 6 spears asparagus, optional (see Note 1 below)
  • 4 ounces shredded carrots, optional (se Note 1 below)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Place the steak on a plate and freeze for 30 minutes, until firm.

Bring soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar to boil in a small saucepan set over a high flame, stirring to combine.  Reduce flame to medium and simmer until slightly syrupy and reduced to half a cup, about 5 minutes.  Set aside.

Place the steak on a cutting board and cut it on the bias into wide, thin strips running perpendicular to the grain.  Pound the strips with a meat mallet until they’re roughly 1/8-inch thick.  Lay three strips side-by-side, with their long edges overlapping by about 1/4-inch.  This should form a square, approximately 7 inches on a side.

Lay each “square” on a plate, separating each with a sheet of parchment paper.  Freeze for ten minutes. (*2)

Put a “square” on a bamboo sushi mat and lay a couple ounces of vegetables in a strip across the middle, as pictured above, with a little of the vegetables hanging over the edge.  Roll steak around the vegetables and secure the “flap” with toothpicks, or tie with kitchen twine.

Place directly over flame on a grill set to medium-high.  Turning a quarter-turn every two minutes to ensure even cooking, basting after each turn with a little of the sauce. (*3)

Remove the negimaki to a cutting board and cut it across the roll into 3/4-inch lengths.  Place cut side-up on a platter and drizzle with a little more sauce.  Serve alongside rice and the remainder of the sauce.


1 – The original recipe uses scallions only, and it merely halves them.  This is fine, though I gave the scallions a broad “julienne,” into wide strips.  Plus, as mentioned I added asparagus (halved lengthwise) and carrots, both for flavor and for color.  If you prefer to stay with just the scallions, double the quantity to 16.

2 – Freezing the “squares” a second time isn’t in the original recipe, though it encourages the strips to meld together, making the rolls easier to handle.

3 – This grilling time is sufficient for medium-rare steak, which, as you can see, I prefer.  For medium steak, give each side three minutes.  For well-done, make it four minutes.



41 thoughts on “Roll with It

  1. you display it so artistically … but fancy ruining good food by adding steak and sake!

    Common on Keith if you must have meat for your main maybe a few desserts for the vego readers please?

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Agreed, Kate, which is one of the things that’s led me to carouse lately much more with fruits and veg.

        Oh, I’m still a poultry/shellfish fiend, but now I can’t go a day without a salad without feeling…a longing. Never thought I’d type that about kale, but you saw it with your own eyes.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Brava, Crystal – thank you!

      This was my first time with negimaki too. I went into the kitchen a novice and left it a fan. Next time, though, chicken, pounded thin. For curiosity’s sake.


      1. Scallopini the heck out that bird! Don’t know about you, but I prefer thighs to most other cuts. Properly trimmed, the “extra” fat is negligible, yet they bring so much more flavor!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ooooooh, look at that! This seems like a much easier “sushi” to make compared to the rice version. I don’t make sushi often because of the mess but this looks like it stays contained. Beautiful presentation too. Our restaurants will be re-opening for outdoor dining soon, but it appears you’re already making dishes that can top theirs. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Much gratitude, Summer!

      Like yours, my sushi-making days are limited. I’m out of practice, which spares Japanese cuisine addition dishonor. Still, righteous bamboo roller, sensei!

      Your description confirms restaurants in CT are at about the same place ours occupy down here. I’m not worried about the chains, but already a couple local eateries have thrown in the towel. There’s something to be said about waiting for a full vaccine, but there’s even more to said for keeping ourselves out of a New Great Depression.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So true. I wonder what will be left by the time everything opens up again.

        Since our favorite Japanese restaurant closed a few years back, I’ve been meaning to learn to improve my sushi skills. I might have to take that up this summer!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. A worthy, healthy, and tasty pursuit, Summer! Imagine, between us, we’ll have one bamboo sushi roller dedicated to the purpose for which it was intended.

        Actually, my Japanese restaurant experience is precisely opposite yours. For years, the closest were each half an hour away, a hibachi in one direction, and a full-blown restaurant in the other. Then, about a year ago, one opened just outside the neighborhood, about five minutes away.

        It was really good, earning at least a couple visits a month. Then, lockdown claimed it in March. I’m hoping. now that the county has moved to “yellow” (from “red”), it will open again, at least for takeout. Because I’ve been seriously jonesing for a Hokkaido Roll! Fingers crossed it’s not among the two or three local places that shuttered permanently.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I bet the people who aren’t into food are probably sick of cooking by now! I’m guessing we’ll be seeing some new restaurants opening at some point to replace the ones that had to permanently close.

        Something that has been confusing me a bit is that our restaurants that are open for outdoor dining are requesting that we have masks. I’m assuming they aren’t expecting folks to wear them while eating… maybe we’re just expected to mask up while ordering? I’m imagining people trying to shove forkfuls of food underneath the masks. Kind of funny, but I’m not sure it would help with anything aside from making eating more awkward! haha

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I would hope so, Summer. A few places didn’t make it, but I suspect there’s going to be so much pent-up demand, they’ll re-emerge in a slightly new place, with a reimagined identity. No doubt, many of the same servers, cooks and mangers will find many of their former colleagues in the new place too.

        Also share your thoughts about most people being a little tired of cooking just about now. Not only that, but the endless search for food supplies, a quest that never quite seems to be satisfied. People aren’t starving, but they are tired.

        Oh, you haven’t heard? The mask restaurants are serving only foods that can be drawn through a straw, allowing the masks to remain safely in place. Lots of milkshakes, chilled, thin soups and cold, watered-down gravies. A veritable feast, it you let spiders inspire you.

        Seriously, though, it will be interesting to learn what the new restaurant “normal” is. For that matter, I have a dentist appointment in a month or so. Sure, I understand, masks in the waiting room, but after that, then what?

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Oh, you are hilarious with the restaurant liquid diet! Hahaha I’m going to have to stick with mostly home cooking in that case. As much as I enjoy the occasional milkshake, I also like to be able to chew my food!

        Our dentist is having people text when they arrive and only one person will be allowed in the waiting room at a time. It’s a really small waiting room, so it’s not a bad idea.

        Dentistry has become a much higher-risk profession than previously. I have a feeling your dentistry team will be wearing more PPE than usual.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Interesting. Of course, my appointment’s not until July, and it’s early (1:00PM). Those factors may mitigate some of the stringency you witnessed.

        Oh, I love milkshakes too. Real milkshakes, though, not those concoctions a clown tips into a waxed cup. The principle applies even to Shamrock Shakes. While they are tasty, admittedly, they’re offered only in early March, when sub-arctic conditions often persist. Thus ruining whatever fun we may have had.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Milkshakes are such a refreshing summer food! I agree they have less appeal when it is cold out.

        Regarding the dentist, our state is really plodding along slowly with reopening and relaxing restrictions. I am hearing that people are crowding into bars in other states! We are not even allowed to dine inside restaurants here. lol

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Tell me about it, Summer. While CT is particularly notorious, PA isn’t far behind. Our governor is going to announce tomorrow most of the state will go to “green” (I.e. opened again…semi-) in another week. At last.

        When this thing first started, our state stores were closed. As they’re the only place to buy wine and liquor, aside from a highly-limited exception the Assembly eked out for grocers, many Pennsylvanians crossed the state line and bought spirits in OH, WV, MD and DE. That is, until those states got wise to the scheme and nixed selling booze to out-of-staters,

        Not much of an issue for me, as I don’t care for liquor, and my wine cellar is well-stocked, but I do use libations in cooking.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Same here. I’m a big fan of Julia Child (and French cuisine in general!) so I use wine for cooking but I rarely drink it. I actually still have a big bottle of cooking wine I purchased at Costco before the lockdown. Maybe one of these days I’ll get around to using it!

        Something a lot of people don’t realize (and I’m only mentioning this because you said you aren’t a big drinker yourself) is that alcohol consumption is linked to a higher risk of quite a few types of cancer. I always see folks discussing red meat, but alcohol is actually linked to far more than just colon cancer (including the treasured “heart-healthy” red wine). I tend to take the sorts of studies making these associations with a big grain of salt, but I think it’s not a bad thing to be aware of. (At least I think it is, considering that I’m a cancer survivor. I wasn’t eating red meat or drinking prior to my diagnosis, so none of these things provide any sort of answer in my case anyway.)

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Thought-provoking, Summer. My objection to liquor is purely one of taste, namely, to me it all mimics the Robitussin our mothers gave us when we had a cough. It’s not a moral exception (“Verily, alcohol is a sin!”), nor is it a case of not being able to manage booze (Years at university prove otherwise). No, it just nauseates.

        Wine’s another story. While I don’t drink much, probably four or five servings a month, what goes in the glass or in recipes uses up a bottle every sixty days or so.

        Your news about the tenuous link between liquor and cancer reinforces my bias. Though, to be fair, have you heard that moderate doses of alcohol supposedly prevent blood clotting? A book was published about ten years or so ago, titled “French Women Don’t Get Fat,” or something similar. The thesis being that, despite a diet rich in cream, butter and other milk fats, the French remain lean. Due, among other things, to a steady, and moderate, influx of alcohol.

        Obviously, an active lifestyle has much to do with it too, but I’d like to think wine wasn’t entirely without benefit.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. My thought on the French diet is that they don’t typically snack and eat smaller portions of rich foods. It’s not exciting but they are just consuming fewer calories overall. Plus there does seem to be more walking from place to place. That last bit may just be my experience as a tourist, however.

        A lot of food and nutrition-related books are filled with partial truths. It can be frustrating but some of them are definitely worth reading because they offer ideas that are worthy of further research. I think the French were smart to stick with their traditional diets. I’m not sure there is strong enough evidence to pinpoint particular components that are providing the benefits. Diets primarily consisting of whole foods and appropriate portions (calorie-wise) will usually appear beneficial.

        Liked by 1 person

      12. You raise a few good points, Summer, that really advance the conversation. Much more than just wine, it’s vigorous activity and moderation in habits that keep the French lean. Or most of them at least.

        Intelligent approach, too, to the literature on the subject (food-worthiness). Just because some advice is faulty doesn’t mean everything in the book is flawed. Here’s where your training and experience really come is handy, as you can analyze the subject matter and determine what should be followed, and what should be forgotten. Like remoras, we latch on, drawing vitality from your knowledge.

        Liked by 1 person

      13. One of the reasons I became interested in my field is that there is so much conflicting information out there. I wanted to know the truth and I also wanted to know why I never had a health provider give me a clear-cut answer on how to lose weight. I had to figure it out on my own. The degree was extremely valuable for insight on how to continue to better my own health and that of my family.

        There’s a book called “Fat Loss Forever” that follows the science closely and is probably my favorite on the category of weight loss/healthy maintenance. It has a lot more math in it than the French book you mentioned. lol I think the math in the book can be a bit off-putting if it isn’t a favorite subject. I like math but never got into the macro calculating like they suggest. Still, it does a nice job covering the science of weight loss/maintenance, even if it is a bit more in-depth than the average person might want or need.

        Liked by 1 person

      14. Impressively enterprising, Summer! You’re most definitely an active learner, not a passive one. When the experts couldn’t seem to make up their minds, you pursued the knowledge yourself. Then, you transfer it to your readers. Lucky us.

        Your experience with “Fat Loss Forever” reminds me of a decidedly less-academic volume in my library. Like many, I enjoyed “The Hunt for Red October.” When I shared that enthusiasm with a friend, he gave me one of the Tom Clancy novels.

        Fascinating subject, but Clancy stuffed it to the rafters with acronyms and all sorts of “inside espionage” jargon. Fine, Clancy, you obviously did your homework. Three cheers, a Standing O and all, but can we get on with the fikkin’ story?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I just learned something new. I thought only fish was used in making Sushi; I had no idea that one could even try using steak, as well. This is a surprise to me; an eye-opener, for sure! 👁 👁 How about a chocolate truffle Sushi?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Tamara! Actually, I have seen a New York chocolatier offer something along the lines of a cacao-forward sushi!

      In this week’s entry, the bamboo roller came straight from my sushi-rolling kit, though this time it made negimaki, similar in appearance to sushi, but an entirely different animal. Literally.

      Sushi boasts all manner of seafood, and I even have seen a vegan version, though negimaki rocks the steak. Just to keep things interesting (and delicious!) I might try it with pounded chicken the next time.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Weird that I’ve been calling you, “TA”. Am I the only one who never knew your name was “Keith”? I remember asking you a few times, just out of curiosity’s sake, and you never told me.

    Liked by 1 person

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