Even in the busy WaPoFood Lab, a pantry package of nori – that dark-green wrap around sushi rolls – can go for months without being used. So I was pleased to find this recipe, which calls for grinding the dried seaweed sheets to a powder and using it as seasoning for compound butter.
The butter does double duty here, gracing simply grilled meat and vegetables over brown rice. It adds a salty richness, in amounts each diner can measure, and you may have enough left over to freeze for topping sizzling oysters and roasted vegetables.
You’ll even have time to pickle red radishes, which add a complementary and acidic bite.
Steak and Asparagus Donburi
You’ll need an instant-read thermometer for monitoring the meat.
The Japanese seasoning blend called togarashi is typically composed of dried chile peppers, dried orange peel, sesame seeds and more. It, the nori (dried seaweed) and the furikake (rice seasoning blend) are available on the Asian foods aisle of most large grocery stores.
MAKE AHEAD: You’ll have nori butter left over, which can be brushed on grilled foods such as potatoes, scallops and chicken.
Adapted from “Adam’s Big Pot: Easy Meals for Your Family,” by Adam Liaw (Hachette, 2014).
Three 7-inch nori sheets
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch togarashi seasoning blend (may substitute furikake seasoning blend or bonito flakes; see headnote)
12 ounces sirloin steak
1/2 teaspoon flaked sea salt, plus more as needed
1 bunch (14 ounces) asparagus
Extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
6 cups cooked brown or white rice, warmed
Pickled radishes, for serving (see NOTE; optional)
Tear up 2 sheets of the nori into small pieces. Working in batches as needed, pulse them in a spice grinder or food processor to a coarse powder.
Place the softened butter in a medium bowl and add the powdered nori and togarashi, stirring until well incorporated.
Heat a heavy skillet or grill pan over high heat.
Season the steak(s) lightly with the salt. Add to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, turning it over as needed, or until the center of the steak registers 140 to 145 degrees (medium-rare) on the thermometer. Do not overcook. Transfer the steak to a cutting board to rest. Keep the pan over high heat.
While the steak is cooking, trim/discard any woody or tough asparagus ends, then cut the stalks in half (to create shorter pieces) and gather in a mixing bowl. Drizzle with a little oil and season lightly with pepper.
Add to the now-empty pan and cook for about 3 minutes, using tongs to turn them often. They should still be a bit crisp and pick up a little char. Transfer them to the cutting board.
Divide the rice among individual bowls. Cut some of the remaining nori sheet into thin short strips and divide among the bowls. Cut the rested steak into 1/2-inch-thick slices, then divide it and the asparagus among the bowls. Brush those warm components with some of the nori butter or, if the butter is soft enough, spoon it on top and let it melt. Serve with the pickled radish, if desired.
NOTE: To quick-pickle radishes, rinse 8 of them well and cut from top to bottom into quarters, trimming them as needed. Combine 1/4 cup plain rice vinegar, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Turn off the heat, add the radishes and let sit for 15 minutes before serving or storing (in their cooled liquid).
Nutrition | Per serving (with brown rice, using 8 teaspoons nori butter): 540 calories, 29 g protein, 71 g carbohydrates, 15 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 70 mg cholesterol, 350 mg sodium, 7 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugar