Negimayaki (ネギマ焼き） or negima as it’s often abbreviated, is scallions or green onions wrapped in thinly sliced meat and pan fried. It’s usually made with thinly sliced beef or pork in Japan. The thing is though, while very thinly slice meat is a standard cut available at any supermarket in Japan, here in Europe it’s not. If I want that cut I have to ask the butcher to do it for me, or slice it myself.
However, ham and cured meat slices of all kinds is very easily available here, so that’s what I use for this version of negima. The advantage of using ham, besides its availibity and handiness, is that it’s already flavored, so you don’t have to add any more seasoning. The saltiness of it flavors the green onion inside too. These cook up very quickly.
Cut the green parts of scallions or spring onions into pieces about 5cm / 2 inches long. Put on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and microwave on HIGH for about 2 minutes. (Alternatively you can cook them in a pan covered with just enough hot water, for about 3 minutes.)
Cut the ham into pieces that are just a bit narrower than the length of the green onion pieces. Take small bundles of the onion and wrap the ham tightly around them.
Heat up a non-stick frying pan and add a tiny bit of oil. Put the ham-and-onion rolls with the roll ends down in the hot pan. Leave until the bottom is a golden brown (this also seals the ends). Turn over 2-3 times more to brown the ham all over.
You shouldn’t need any more salt, but if you like you can sprinkle on some allspice, or Chinese 5 spice powder, or chili powder, for a little extra oomph.
You can make as few or as many of these rolls as you require. They freeze very well. Reheat in the microwave or in a frying pan over medium-low heat with the lid on.
See the negimayaki used in this bento from today!
The ones I used were actually frozen about a month ago. This is the last of a batch of about 30 I made and froze. The rest of the bento is also made up of frozen johbisai or ‘stash’, plus leftovers. Click on the image to go to the flickr page that has lots of notes.
There are two commonly available cuts of meat (both pork and beef) in Japan that I can’t get here, nor do I remember seeing them in regular supermarkets and such in the U.S. or England. The cuts are komagire (小間切れ), roughly chopped meat, and usugiri (薄切り), thinly sliced meat. Both are from not-that-lean parts. They are used a lot in bento recipes in Japanese cookbooks, because they cook so quickly and are very economical. It would be great if these cuts became more widely available, but until then I make do with what I can get and what I think most people can get easily.
(A note for people in Switzerland: Fondue Chinois meat is the closest thing to usugiri, but the pieces are too small for most things…)
Update: I have posted a recipe for proper yasai no nikumaki (meat-wraped vegetables) using thinly sliced/shaved sirloin beef, or ‘cheesesteak beef’.
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