“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!
Chaliapin Steak Don (Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Recreation Recipe)
- 2 thick sirlion steaks or fillet
- 600 g yellow onion(s) approx. 3 white onions
- 1 pinch salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp beef fat beef dripping or a neutral oil with a high smoke point (like vegetable oil or canola)
- 300 g cooked Japanese short-grain rice
- 3 pickled plums umeboshi, optional
- 4 perilla leaves ooba leaves, optional
- 2 tbsp finely chopped green onion(s) to garnish
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 5 tbsp red wine
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp water to make slurry
- 1 tsp cornstarch or potato starch, to make slurry
- Grate or blitz one of the white onions in a food processor to make a chunky paste.
- Wrap 2 thick sirlion steaks with cling film and tenderise using a meat tenderiser or a rolling pin. Beat until approx 1.5 – 2cm thick (approx 3/4 inch).
- Unwrap the steaks and score the top and bottom diagonally with a sharp knife. Cut lightly over the surfaces, make sure not to cut all the way through.
- Take a plate or container large enough for your steaks and line the bottom with half of the grated onion. Spread the other half over the top of the steaks and make sure they’re completely covered.
- Cover the container with a lid or cling film and leave in a cool place for 30 minutes. (Don’t refrigerate.)
- Finely chop the other 2 onions.
- Melt 1 tbsp unsalted butter in a frying pan on medium heat.
- Add the rest of your chopped onions and cook until the colour turns lightly golden.
- Once it reaches a light gold colour, add 1 pinch salt and pepper and stir. Continue to fry until golden brown.
- When it’s cooked, set it aside for later.
- Scrape the chopped onion off of the steak and discard.
- Wash the steak under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Sprinkle each side with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Heat up a frying pan on high and once it's smoking, add 1 tbsp beef fat.
- Once the fat is heated, add the steak to the pan.
- Fry the steak until it’s slightly charred and flip it over.
- Continue to fry until it reaches your preferred "doneness". I recommend rare or medium rare 53 °C (127 °F) for Chaliapin steak.
- Once the steak is cooked, transfer to a plate and allow to rest.
- In the same pan as you cooked the steaks, melt 1 tbsp unsalted butter on a medium heat until you can smell the butter aroma.
- Add 1 tbsp soy sauce and cook until you can smell the soy sauce aroma.
- Next add 5 tbsp red wine to the sauce.
- The juices from the steak should have leaked out onto the plate by now, pour those juices into the sauce for extra flavour.
- Let the sauce bubble for a few minutes to burn off the alcohol.
- In a small bowl, mix 1 tbsp water with 1 tsp cornstarch and pour it into the sauce.
- Mix until the sauce is thickened and then remove it from the heat.
Ume Rice (optional steps)
- Cut 4 perilla leaves into thin strips.
- Remove the seeds from 3 pickled plums.
- Using a knife, cut the umeboshi into small pieces until it becomes a paste.
- Put 300 g cooked Japanese short-grain rice into a large bowl and add the umeboshi paste and finely sliced shiso leaves.
- Mix well.
- Divide the rice into two bowls.
- Slice the steak meat into bite size pieces and lay them on the top of the rice.
- Pile up the sautéed onion on top and drizzle with the red wine sauce.
- Garnish with 2 tbsp finely chopped green onion(s).