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What Is Negimaki?

By Angie Bates
Updated May 16, 2024
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A Japanese dish, negimaki consists of grilled or fried teriyaki-marinated beef strips stuffed with scallions. The strips are first cut, then pounded to achieve an ultra thinness. Afterward, they are rolled with the scallions. Often found in Japanese restaurants, negimaki can easily be made at home.

Although teriyaki sauce can be bought in stores, it is often made from scratch in negimaki. Sake and mirin, rice wine and sweet rice wine respectively, are usual ingredients for Japanese teriyaki sauce. In addition, soy sauce and sugar are normally added. To make the marinade, the liquids and the sugar are simply stirred together until the sugar dissolves.

Flank steak is usually the meat of choice for negimaki. The steak is cut into strips 1.5–2 inches (3.8–5 cm) wide. Then, the stripes are placed between sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper where they are pounded until they are approximately 1/16 of an inch (0.15 cm) thick. Afterward, several strips of the meat are overlapped side-by—side to create small squares. The squares are then seasoned with salt.

Also simply called green onions, scallions are the only filling for these meat rolls. Before they are rolled into the meat, the scallions are first blanched. Blanching involves putting vegetables briefly into boiling water and then immediately into an ice bath. Once the scallions are blanched, several are laid across each square of seasoned meat. Then, the squares are rolled and secured with twine or toothpicks and placed in the marinade.

Negimaki does not need to marinate for long. Normally, the rolls marinate for no longer than 30 minutes and may be in the liquid as briefly as 15 minutes. Then, the rolls are placed on a grill brushed with oil or in a frying pan or skillet coated in oil. The meat cooks quickly and is often served medium rare. Once complete, the bindings are removed from the meat wraps, and the wraps are sliced into sushi-sized pieces.

While the meat is cooking, the marinade is boiled and thickened to create a sauce. When both meat and marinade are complete, they can be served. Some versions pour the sauce over the meat and some place the meat on top of the marinade.

Rarely, versions of negimaki will use white meat chicken instead of beef. These versions may create a brushing sauce for grilling rather than a marinade. Although the sauce has many of the same ingredients, garlic and sesame oil are often added.

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