The Meatwave


Negimaki View Recipe

I'm totally "that guy" in Japanese restaurants. You know, the one person at the table who doesn't eat sushi and skips 3/4 of menu and goes straight for the tumpura, katsu, or teriyaki put on the menu just to placate people like me. While I'm slowly getting over a lifelong seafood aversion, raw fish has yet to successfully make its way into my diet, and I'm left ordering off of the "kitchen entrees" of shame. In my own messed up mind, sometimes I turn to negimaki—thinly sliced wrapped around scallions—and trick myself into thinking it's some sort of "meat sushi" because it's in a roll form. I know that's incredibly ridiculously, but you can't deny that this is some pretty good eats.


To keep me in my delusive state, let's start making this "meat sushi." To start a roll, something needs to serve as the innards, and for negimaki, that role is taken by scallions. Since the rolls grill incredibly fast, the scallions need to be blanched prior to being rolled, otherwise they would not cook through and be tough to eat in the end.


Second you need a rolling agent, and flank steak fits the bill here. The steak is cut thin on a bias to increase surface area, then pounded out to make it even thinner, larger, and of even size.


Let's roll! While I'm a big fan of meat rolling, I've pretty much only worked on a larger scale, and found the tiny negimaki rolls more difficult for someone who lacks fine motor skills. Never-the-less, I got them rolled and tied up, just lacking some finesse a more skilled cook might have.


Now comes the addition of flavor in the form of a teriyaki sauce. Sake, mirin, soy sauce, and sugar make up this marinade, which gets poured over the little rolls and let sit for about 30 minutes while preparing the grill.


On the grill, you give flank steak what it wants, high heat. The rolls sear and pretty much cook through in no time. This was the easiest part for me, as the grill is my comfort zone, but off the grill, poised with the challenge of removing butcher twine from the delicate rolls, I was once again stumbling along, although it all turned out well in the end.


While the meat rested, the teriyaki marinade was cooked down in a saucepan, then spooned over the sliced rolls.

While there was some obvious lack of roll making skill, the flavors of negimaki were all there—possibly even better than what I've had in restaurants. The steak was nice and meaty, while the scallions added a soft crunch and fresh flavor. The teriyaki did a lot of heavy lifting with it's sweet and salty flavor that seems to go well on so much. This left me with an interesting problem, why would I want sushi when I have this great meat!

Print Recipe


  • Yield 4 servings as an appetizer
  • Prep 20 Minutes
  • Inactive 20 Minutes
  • Cook 15 Minutes
  • Total 55 Minutes


  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, divided
  • 12 small scallions, trimmed to 6-inches in length
  • 1 pound flank steak, roughly 6 to 7 inches square
  • 1/4 cup sake
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  1. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 tablespoon of salt, then blanch scallions until just softened, about 45 seconds. Remove scallions to a bowl of ice water. Transfer scallions to paper towels to drain and pat dry.
  2. Cut flank steak with the grain, holding a large knife at a 30-degree angle to cutting board, into 12 1/8-inch-thick slices that are 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Arrange slices 1 inch apart on plastic wrap, then cover with another piece of plastic wrap and pound slices until about 1/16 inch thick.
  3. Arrange 3 beef slices side by side, overlapping slices slightly to form a 6-inch square. Sprinkle square lightly with salt, then lay 3 scallions across the meat in the direction of the grain. Tightly roll up meat around scallions and tie shut with kitchen twine at ends and where meat slices overlap. Repeat with remaining meat and scallions.
  4. Stir together sake, mirin, soy sauce, and sugar in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved. Put rolls in a small dish and pour marinade over them, turning to coat. Marinate, turning occasionally, while preparing the grill, 15 to 30 minutes.
  5. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover gill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Grill rolls, reserving marinade, until well seared on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.
  6. While the meat is resting, pour reserved marinade into a small pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until slightly thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Cut off and discard twine from negimaki rolls. Cut eat roll into 6 1-inch slices. Arrange rolls on a plate and drizzle with sauce.

Adapted from Gourmet

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  1. Chris Bookmarked this great idea. Don't feel bad, I'm pretty much "that guy" too.

  2. Waky Anything good is better on a stick!