Time to Prepare: 40 minutes
Cost: $$ (out of $$$$$)
Cleanup: 10-15 minutes
While I tend to shy away from using beef in a lot of my recipes because it tends to have a high amount of calories and fat compared to many other meat variants, it's also a red meat that offers a lot of needed protein and nutrients if you're trying to build muscle mass.
So, to tie a solution for beef into a Japanese approach to managing caloric intake and adding vegetables, you're left with what's become known as my Beef Vegetable Salad, and I have it for two to four meals a week. Coming in at only 350 calories per meal-sized serving, it's a pretty lean way to supplement an exercise-focused lifestyle.
Cooking Utensils Needed:
Since our vegetables are starting off frozen, let's put the necessary amount of them into a microwave-safe bowl to get them thawed out. How long you thaw them depends on your microwave, but I tend to do 2 minutes 45 seconds for mine.
Start preheating your frying pan on a stovetop to '5' to save yourself a little time in a few minutes.
While the microwave and stovetop are running, start work on your cilantro by cutting off the stems to leave just the leafy pieces left. You can use either a knife or your fingers for this part. Once the stems are removed, use your hand to press the cilantro leaves together so that you can finely chop them into 1/8 to 1/4 inch strips, then add them to your large mixing bowl.
Once the vegetables are done in the microwave, add them into the bowl as well - along with your Chinese mustard, sea salt, and pepper. Use your strainer spoon to thoroughly mix everything together.
By now, your frying pan should be moderately warmed up. Place your ground beef into the pan, being quick to break it up with your spatula and/or scrape it off the pan to prevent the beef from burning onto it. If you're like me, you're going to brown a pound of hamburger at once here, use the five and a half ounces needed for our recipe, then save the rest in the refrigerator for later.
As your hamburger is browning, you're going to notice the liquid meat fat/grease accumulating around the bottom of the pan, as pictured in the second image below - this grease is going to be our mortal enemy for the next few minutes. Hamburger grease contains roughly 140 calories per tablespoon, which is more calories than straight-up vegetable oil! While many naysayers would argue that this grease provides necessary 'flavor' for beef recipes, we need to get as much of it stripped out as possible for what we're doing here.
Since it's pretty frowned upon to put raw grease down your sink drain since it easily clogs (or, if you live in some cities such as Tokyo, it's actually against the law), remove your pan from the stovetop and drain the liquid grease from the hamburger into a disposable trash container. After you've drained most of it out, return the pan to the stovetop to finish browning your meat.
Once finished, empty your cooked hamburger into your strainer, and run it under tap water for at least a minute to help wash any additional grease off the meat, then empty into our medium mixing bowl from before. While doing this, return your frying pan to the stovetop, but lower the heat to '3'.
As noted in the sixth image below, this helps get the last of the grease off your hamburger. While I'm sure this horrifies any onlookers as removing nearly all the 'flavor' from our beef, don't worry - we're going to re-flavor our meat shortly to help balance it out.
Since our frying pan is still warmed-up on the stovetop after everything else that's transpired thus far, add in your shoyu followed by the beef we just cleaned. Gently mix it all together, and let the mild heat from the stove cook the shoyu into the meat - it should absorb most, if not all, of the liquid in the bottom of the frying pan.
Once this process is nearly completed, you can turn off the heat to the stove burner and let it sit for a minute while proceeding to the next step. The meat won't burn.
Taking out our cutting board and cheese, we're going to want 12 small pieces of cheese to use as a topping for the finished product.
Add the finished beef into your large mixing bowl along with our other ingredients (minus the cheese) thus far, and mix everything together using your strainer spoon. Since I'm using this for a bento lunch at work, I'm going to add it into my bento containers, then top things off with my cheese pieces from before.
And, after testing the finished product out after my lunchtime workout while at my employer later in the day, it seems our work was an unqualified success. The mustard, pepper, and cilantro help give everything a really fresh, light taste while the shoyu beef adds a bit of zest and spice. Seeing as how I've historically dreaded salads simply because most American salads are "too light", this strikes a very acceptable middle ground.
While it's pretty simple at the end of the day, it does give me an opportunity to enjoy beef again without dreading the extra half-hour of working out I'd normally have to do to compensate for all the extra calories.