There's more than one way to cook a very-thinly-sliced steak to perfection and "a la" ("in the style of") Chinese "hot pot" or Japanese "shabu shabu" ("Asian fondue") is a method that doesn't occur to most American cooks. It wouldn't have occurred to me either if I hadn't eaten hot pot in China and shabu shabu in Japan. Joe and I enjoyed both of these encounters so much, he arranged to have a copper hot pot shipped from China to my American Happy Valley kitchen.
Hot pot & shabu shabu inspired my American-Asian beef sliders.
From my American foodie's vantage point, I found hot pot and shabu shabu to be more alike than different. A hot pot of mild- to spicily-seasoned, simmering, meat- or vegetable-based broth is placed in the center of the communal table. Depending on the country and region of the country, an array of thinly-sliced meats, vegetables, dumplings or noodles and dipping sauces are positioned around the pot. Via a pair of chop sticks, each person picks up and cooks their food by bathing it in the broth. The words "shabu shabu" mean "swish swish", and, double-dipping (using the same pair of chopsticks to cook and eat) is common practice.
What are the differences between the two? The obvious one is the flavor profile. Hot pot is full of Chinese flavors and shabu shabu is full of seasonings common to Japan. That said, I found the actual dining experience to be the biggest difference. In China, hot pot was a casual, inexpensive, family-style meal. In Japan, shabu shabu was a dress-up, expensive, special-occasion feast. While I adored the spicy, slightly-chewy Szechuan beef version in China, the more subtle, melt-in-my-mouth kobe beef version in Japan absolutely blew me away.
Don't have a fancy hot pot? An electric skillet will do.
While I love my copper hot pot, nowadays, it's mostly a showy conversation piece in my kitchen.
It's a pretty prop to have on-hand to explain the ancient-Asian history behind this modern-day now-retro method of cooking, which is more-often-than-not singularly associated with the famous French and Swiss cheese fondue. That said, when I'm serving any type of fondue (savory meat, poultry or seafood, creamy cheese or sweet chocolate), or throwing a fondue party, like everyone else in America today, I use my much easier-to-clean sterno-driven pots. I have a few small electric fondue pots too, which come in handy for all sorts of other culinary purposes (like keeping sauces and gravies at the perfect temperature).
In the case of today's recipe, which technically is a type of hot pot, shabu shabu or fondue, I use my electric skillet. Why? My family or guests are not cooking and eating their own food. I'm cooking the steak all at once, for a mere 1-1 1/2 minutes, then heaping it onto some soft, slider-sized dinner rolls.
Part One: Mixing & Marinating the Broccoli Slaw
No pretense here. They day I came across store-bought "broccoli cole slaw mix" (cole slaw mix made with crunchy green broccoli stems instead of green cabbage), my mind immediately raced to the flavors of soy sauce and sesame oil. Why? Broccoli is classic Asian. There's more. I didn't have to experiment with the perfect dressing for it -- I'd already come up with one for my Asian chicken salad recipe. After a quick mix of the pre-shredded store-bought raw vegetables and my honey-sesame dressing, Asian slaw perfection was revealed. The brand I use is organic, and, contains just three crunchy ingredients: broccoli, carrots and red cabbage. It truly is a high-quality time-saving mixture that any busy cook can and should appreciate.
1/4 cup each: vegetable oil and white rice vinegar
1 tablespoon each: sesame oil and Thai seasoning soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1, 12-ounce bag store-bought broccoli cole slaw
~ Step 1. In a measuring container w/a tight fitting lid, combine all the liquid ingredients. Shake vigorously.
~ Step 2. Place the broccoli cole slaw in a medium bowl and add all of the dressing. Give it a thorough stir.
Place the slaw in the refrigerator for 2-6 hours (or overnight will work too), stopping to stir it about every 30-45 minutes in the beginning so that all the slaw gets to absorb the dressing equally. Note: This recipe yields 3/4 cup of salad dressing and 4 cups of broccoli cole slaw.
Part Two: Slicing & Cooking the Flank Steak
This recipe is as simple and straightforward as it gets. Once the flavorful broth mixture is stirred together and the steak and onion are sliced, which takes about 10 total minutes and can be done in advance, the work is done. The only mistakes you can make are: not slicing the meat thin enough or overcooking it in the simmering broth. Remember, "swish swish", that's it. I'm using flank steak today as it is familiar to, available to and affordable for everyone. That said, I've made these often with filet mignon (beef tenderloin) and rib-eye (Delmonico steak) too. As long as the meat is very-thinly sliced, between 1/8"-1/4" thick, nothing about the recipe changes.
For the meat, onion and optional heat:
1 3/4-2 pounds flank steak, very-thinly sliced across the grain holding the knife at a 30° angle to a thickness of 1/8"-1/4"
12 ounces halved and very-thinly-sliced into half-moon shapes, yellow or sweet onion
4-6 red, Thai bird chile peppers, split-opon (optional) (Note: Don't let their tiny size fool you. These will add quite a nice "kick of heat" to the finished sandwiches.)
For the broth mixture:
1 cup beef broth
3/4 cup Thai seasoning soy sauce
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
~ Step 1. In a 1-quart measuring container thoroughly stir all of the broth ingredients together.
For the slider-sandwich assembly:
1 dozen small, 2 1/2"-3"-round, very soft, slider-sized rolls (Note: If you want full-sized sandwiches, substitute 6-8 standard-sized hamburger-sized rolls.)
freshly-simmered, hot-out-of-the-broth steak and onions, drained of all excess broth
chilled Asian broccoli slaw (from above recipe)
~ Step 2. To slice the flank steak, holding a large chef's knife at a 30° angle, slice the meat, across the grain, as thin as you can, into 1/8"-1/4" thick pieces. This is not hard to do so don't over-think it.
~ Step 3. Slice the onion in half, and slice each half into very thin half-moon shapes.
~Step 4. Pour broth mixture in the bottom of 16" electric skillet. Add optional Thai chile peppers and adjust heat to simmer (about 250°). Add sliced onion and simmer until onions have softened, about 1 minute. Add meat, and, when broth returns to a simmer, using a large spoon, stir (keep the meat swimming around) until it has just lost its red color, 1-1 1/2 minutes. Using an Asian spider or large slotted spoon, remove meat and onions to a paper-towel-lined platter to drain excess liquid, about 15-20 seconds.
Heap meat onto rolls, top w/broccoli slaw & eat ASAP.
Asian Hot-Pot-Style Steak Sliders w/Broccoli Slaw: Recipe yields 3/4 cup honey-sesame salad dressing, 4 cups broccoli slaw and 12 steak slider sandwiches.
Special Equipment List: 1-2-cup measuring container w/tight-fitting lid & pourer top; 4-cup food-storage container w/lid; cutting board; chef's knife; 1-quart measuring container; spoon; electric skillet; Asian spider or large slotted spoon; paper towels
Cook's Note: For another out-of-the-ordinary, over-the-top delicious steak sandwich experience, allow me to recommend ~ Joe's Steak Joseph: Filet of Beef-Steak Sandwich ~ which can be found in Categories, 2, 3, 21, 26.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)