"Chaliapin Steak Don" is the ultimate tender steak rice bowl. This dish was made famous through an anime called "Food Wars!" and is made up of refreshing umeboshi and shiso flavoured rice, topped with marinated steak, soft golden onions and a rich red wine sauce. It will literally melt your mouth!
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What is Chaliapin Steak?
Chaliapin steak (シャリアピンステーキ) is a super soft steak that has been marinated in grated or finely chopped onions to make it extremely tender, and then served topped with onions and a rich red wine sauce.
I have to be honest, I'd never heard of this dish until the anime "Shokugeki no Soma" (食戟のソーマ) made it popular, but it's a real Japanese steak dish with an interesting history!
The History of Chaliapin Steak
Chaliapin steak was created by a chef working at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo in 1936.
During that time, a Russian opera singer named Feodor Chaliapin was visiting Japan. He was said to be suffering from toothaches during his visit and requested an extra tender steak to prevent worsening the pain. A chef named Fukuo Tsutsui fulfilled his request and the Chaliapin steak was born!
Tsutsui's method for making the steak extremely soft included beating it with a meat tenderizer and then coating it in chopped onions. It is believed that he got the idea from using onions in beef sukiyaki.
What kind of steak should I use?
Although the dish looks and sounds quite elegant, the true goal is to use cheaper cuts of meat and then tenderize it.
Expensive beef like "wagyu" is already tender, it doesn't need so much work. The beauty of this dish is that you don't need expensive meat!
I recommend using one of the following:
- Chuck Eye
Most importantly, try and use a steak that is thick so that you can get nice slices with pink in the middle.
The Science of Tenderizing Beef
The process of tenderising meat means helping break down proteins and muscle fibers in order to create a soft and tender steak. This can be achieved in a number of ways.
- Meat tenderising tool (looks like a small spikey hammer)
- Making a crosshatch pattern with a knife
- Poking holes
- Slicing against the grain
- Allowing the meat to reach room temperature before cooking
- Resting the meat after cooking
I'd say the most common method I use is "marinating" and you'll see it a lot in my recipes.
Acidic ingredients such as lemon, pineapple, vinegar and even yogurt are great at breaking down the proteins in beef. They contain "proteolytic enzymes" which can also be found in onions!
In this recipe, we're aiming for SUPER tender, so I'm basically gonna use all of the techniques and a tonne of onions. I hope you're ready!
For this recipe, the steak is best served rare or medium-rare. Of course, if you prefer your steak well done, you can still cook it that way.
It's kinda hard to give a time on how long it takes for the steak to reach each stage of "doneness". Factors that affect the cooking time include the thickness of your steak, whether your steak is room temperature or is straight out of the fridge (I really recommend letting the steaks reach room temp before cooking) and even the type of pan you use and how hot you can get it.
With this in mind, rather than giving you a time, I want you to follow the chart below!
If you use this method of comparing the firmness of your palm with the firmness of your steak, you're on the road to making perfect steak every time! It's easy to remember too!
Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma
As I mentioned before, Chaliapin Steak gained popularity through a famous anime called "Shokugeki no Soma" (食戟のソーマ) in Japanese and "Food Wars!" in English.
The recipes featured on there create a lot of hype online and even though they're animated, you've gotta admit that they look so delicious.
One thing that captured my interest was making Chaliapin steak into a donburi dish and using "umeboshi" pickled plum paste to flavour the rice. I had to try it out! I added my own twist by adding sliced shiso leaf to the rice too, shiso and ume taste great together. (You can buy umeboshi on Amazon here.)
What is Umeboshi?
So for this donburi recipe, I'm going to show you how to make umeboshi rice. Umeboshi (梅干し) is a small pickled Japanese plum which is very sour and salty in flavour. I've gotta say that I love umeboshi!
You might have seen it placed on top of rice or in bento boxes and it's a very popular flavour in Japan. You can find umeboshi flavour crisps (potato chips), popcorn and drinks!
You should be able to find umeboshi or umeboshi paste in Japanese supermarkets or online (you can buy on Amazon here) but if you can't find it then it's okay to make this dish with plain rice too. Umeboshi are an acquired taste and you should definitely try it if you have a chance! I think the flavour makes this dish very unique, but it's not essential.
Let's get to it!