Have you ever eaten at a Pepper Lunch restaurant?
Pepper Lunch is not a high-end luxury dining experience by any means. As a matter of fact, you have to first place your order into a vending machine and pick out your items to get your food ticket and to retrieve your food. However please don’t misconstrue. Of course, there are not waitresses fluttering about you waiting on you hand in foot. However, their signature dish is simple, quick, inexpensive, filling, hot, delicious and served to you in a matter of moments. In addition, their special sauces are to die for. There is the Amakuchi sauce which is sometimes called Special Honey Brown Sauce , Pepper Steak Honey Brown Sauce, Japanese honey brown sauce. There is the Karakuchi sauce sometimes called the Garlic-Soy Sauce or Pepper Lunch Steak sauce. My family loves them both.
I first posted this recipe on November 17, 2011 and I have made this dish about a million times since then for my family. I have added some helpful hints and I have sorted out the recipe for both the Amakuchi and Karakuchi sauce to the best of my tasting abilities.
You are never going to believe this but they just put in a Pepper Lunch restaurant walking distance from my home, here in Hong Kong. Life is good! However, when I don’t feel like fighting the crowds or walking 20 minutes, making this dish at home is a great alternative.
According to Wikipedia, Pepper Lunch restaurant originated in Japan in 1994 by chef and inventor Kunio Ichinose, who wanted to serve quality fast food without hiring a chef. He devised a method using hot metal plates that are heated to 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 Celsius) by an electromagnetic cooker. The raw meat with vegetables and/or rice are then placed on the plates, where they cook in front of the customer. The meal is then mixed with a choice of either the special honey brown sauce (Amakuchi) or garlic soy sauce (Karakuchi). Now there are over 200 restaurants in Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Macau, Philippines and USA.
The signature dish of “Pepper Lunch Restaurant” is their sizzling beef and rice platter. Hands down this type of food that teenagers will come flocking to as it consists of everything they deem edible in Asia in one easy dish; rice, beef, corn and the special yummy sauces.
You know the everyday struggle I have with raising and feeding teenagers in Asia… “Eww! Are we are on the show fear factor? My goodness, what is that? I am soooooo not eating that. (Grilled squid on a stick, Fried blood, chicken feet, 1000 year old eggs, congee, snake,eel, mystery like meat substances with lots of bones, the list goes on and on). Need I say more???? So our famous family motto is, “There is always rice!” Plain white rice is pure and filling. In addition, rice can be used as way to hide the other weird mysterious foods that end up on your plate during those executive meetings and or other such functions. My teenagers all know the drill, move your food around on your plate, pretend to enjoy and smile while eating the items placed on your plate or hide the weird stuff on the bottom of your rice pile.
However, men cannot live on rice alone, so that is why this signature sizzling beef and rice dish is a perfect family retreat in Asia. Of course it is fun to eat this dish out at the Pepper Lunch restaurant, but it is just as fun, easy and simple to make this dish at home. After several visits to this establishment, here is what I think they put into their signature dishes. (give or take a few ingredients)
I use sukiyaki beef that is very thin and delicious and here is a photo of it, if you are wondering what it is. Now don’t worry if you cannot find sukiyaki beef you can just use a sirloin or other tasty tender cut of meat you like and slice it ultra thin.
This is my re-engineering of the recipe just by taste and watching them make it in the restaurant. Feel free to adjust ingredients/amounts and let me know how it goes.
Helpful Cooking Hints:
1) Using an iron skillet is best as it really holds the heat and can cook the beef even after it is off the burner. However, I do not have 4 iron skillets and I need to use regular skillets for the rest of our family. No worries you will just have to keep the regular pan on the burner for an additional 3-5 minutes to cook the beef and to get the rice crunchy.
2) The crunchy rice on the bottom is the best part. I like to keep my pan on the burner for the additional couple of minutes just to get that delicious rice crunchy.
3) You do not have to use beef, if you are vegan substitute vegetables such as colorful peppers and zuchinni, eggplant or even fried tofu.
4) Many people use super thin slices of fatty salmon or tuna belly instead of beef or even super thin slices of pork.
5) If you cannot find super thin and beautiful sukiyaki beef at the store , then try purchasing a sirloin steak, put it in the freezer so it gets firm and then cut into super thin slices. Make sure it is unthawed and dried all the way before cooking.
6) If you need to follow a gluten free diet then please substitute soy sauce with tamari and you can have the garlic- soy (Karakuchi sauce). However you cannot have the honey -soy sauce mixture as the oyster sauce is not gluten free. If you really want to try an alteration to the honey -soy sauce, remove the oyster sauce and replace with 1/4 cup water with 1 teaspoon of cornstarch and mix until it is a slurry and add to the honey soy mixture and cook until bubbly and thick.
7) If you are diabetic, you can still enjoy the beef but instead of the rice sizzle add some vegetables. Instead of the honey in the honey soy mixture add a sugar alternative to taste.
8) Kids and adults both love this dish!
Japanese Pepper Lunch Steak is an amazing dish with sizzling tender sukiyaki beef, pepper, rice and a delicious Amukuchi and Karakuchi sauces that can be on your table in less than 30 minutes. (Serves 4)
- Amakuchi (Honey - Soy Sauce)
- honey - 1/4 cup
- tamari (soy) sauce - 1/4 cup
- oyster sauce - 1/4 cup
- Karakuchi (Garlic-Soy Sauce)
- canola oil - 1 teaspoon
- garlic - 3 -4 cloves minced
- tamari (soy) sauce - 1/2 cup
- black pepper - 1/2 teaspoon
- water - 1/4 cup
- cornstarch - 1 teaspoon
- Pepper Lunch Beef (serves 4)
- canola oil - 4 tablespoons (1 tablespoon per person)
- onion - 1 large onion chopped finely (1/4 onion per person)
- garlic - 2 cloves minced (1/2 garlic clove per person)
- rice - 4 cups precooked white rice (1 cup per person)
- sukiyaki beef - 800 grams or about 1.75 pounds (Feeds 4 hungry teenagers) if you cannot find sukiyaki beef, you can use sirloin and freeze and then cut ultra thin
- pepper - 1 teaspoon (1/4 teaspoon per person)
- corn - 1 cup (can use fresh, frozen or even canned)- 1/4 cup per person
- margarine/butter - 4 teaspoons (1 teaspoon per person)
- green onions - 2 tablespoons thinly sliced for garnish
Step 1: Make the special honey brown sauce (Amakuchi). In a small pan add honey, soy sauce and oyster sauce mix and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes and set aside.
Step 2: Make the garlic soy sauce (Karakuchi). In a small pan add your oil and then add your garlic and just sauté until slightly aromatic then add the tamari (soy sauce) and pepper. Mic the cornstarch and water together to make a slurry and then slowly add to karakuchi sauce and cook until boils and slightly thickens. Set aside.
Step 3: Make your Pepper Lunch Steak. In an iron skillet or a heavy duty pan, heat up your pan to a high heat, add your oil, onions and garlic and cook just until aromatic, add 1 cup of rice (per person) in the middle of the pan, then add the beef around the rice. sprinkle pepper on your beef, add the corn on top of rice and then place a dab of butter on top of your corn/rice mixture.
It is at this point that in the restaurant pepper lunch they would remove from the heat and serve to you. It is up to you but if you have 4 iron skillets and can get the pans super hot to cook the meat then by all means remove from the heat and serve. However, I only have one iron skillet, and only 3 burners and 3 regular pans and 4 mouths so feed.
Step 4: For those of you that do not have an iron skillet or really like their beef more well done or even crispy then keep on cooking for a little bit (3-5 minutes) and turn over the beef and let the rice get a little crunchy on the bottom as that is my absolute favorite part.
Step 5: Garnish your pepper lunch steak and rice sizzle with a little green onion and serve with both the delicious special honey brown sauce (Amakuchi) and garlic soy sauce (Karakuchi). Enjoy!
Bring the Japanese Pepper Lunch Beef Sizzle piping hot to the table in the iron skillet pan and set on an oven safe mitten. (Be Careful, it is VERY hot) Yummy served with edamame and Japanese pickles on the side. ITADAKIMASU! - Lets Eat!