Chaliapin Steak is a tender tasting steak invented in Japan. Although it is not new, curiosity about the dish has increased recently because of the Japanese anime Food Wars! : Shokugeki No Soma.
The series follows the stories of top student chefs who battle with each other for various rewards. In the first food war (shokugeki in Japanese), the main character Soma wins his first fight with Chaliapin Steak Don.
The recipes in the anime are provided by the top Japanese chef Yuri Morisaki, and it is this version of steak with rice that we will learn to cook in this post.
So if you want to find out what makes it a shokugeki winning recipe, continue reading to find out more about this marvellous tenderised steak donburi dish!
What is Chaliapin Steak?
Chaliapin steak is a very tender version of steak marinated with onion juice and served with more onions. What sets this version apart from other Japanese steak recipes is the onions used to soften the muscle fibres and proteins in the meat.
The story of the Chaliapin steak starts with a renowned Russian opera singer, Feodor Chaliapin when he visited Japan in 1927. It was said that chefs at the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo, were very nervous as they heard he was a fussy eater.
He arrived in Tokyo to perform and record some of his works, but toothache plagued him. Despite his ills, he requested melt-in-your-mouth steak. An ingenious chef came up with the idea of treating the beef to meet Chaliapin’s request.
Inspired by onions in beef sukiyaki, he soaked the meat in onion juices to tenderise it. Thereafter, he served the tenderised beef piled high with chopped onions. The dish was so well-received that, as legend has it, the president of the hotel named it “Chaliapin’s Steak”, in honour of the musician.
The science behind tenderising beef
It was the proteolytic enzymes in onions that broke down the proteins in the beef meat. But you can also marinate the meat in acidic ingredients such as lemon, pineapple, vinegar, and even yoghurt to achieve the same effect.
Before marinating, chefs also slice the Chaliapin steak against the grain, which makes it more tender as this technique slices the muscle fibres, loosening the slab of meat. Wrapping the slab of meat and then pounding it with a meat tenderising tool also helps to make the flesh nice and delicate.
You can also use a knife and carve cross-hatch patterns. Finally, allow the meat to reach room temperature before cooking.
What cut of meat to use?
While they used sirloin steak for the original recipe, other cuts of meat such as tenderloin and even ribeye can substitute the meat for Chaliapin Steak.
The magic of the recipe is that it can transform any meat into a wagyu grade steak. “Really?”, you may ask. Many fans will vehemently disagree since wagyu beef is well known for being buttery and tender, hence, its high price tag.
However, the anime has convinced many that we can use even affordable standard quality beef for this recipe. This, along with knowing the different cuts, helps when choosing the best meat to fit your budget.
Sirloin, the muscle in the topmost section, is slightly tougher than tenderloin. This lean and flavorful cut is preferred for making the Chaliapin steak recipe. Moreover, if you purchase top sirloin that is already cut into steaks, it will save the chef some labour.
As its name implies, tenderloin is the most tender part sectioned from beneath the ribs. Tenderloin makes an excellent choice of meat for this dish.
Ribeye is the most popular choice for steak lovers, thanks to its rich marbling which gives it a rich, wonderful flavour. It is a preferred cut of meat that we can use for this Japanese tendered meat dish.
However, what makes the Chaliapin Steak recipe in Food Wars so accessible is the use of affordable sirloin meat, served alongside rice. Cubed steak-pounded sirloin meat put through a tenderiser and then compacted into a cube- is the cheapest form you can buy at a supermarket. Even cubed steak can be an excellent choice with this recipe.
Overall, this beef steak donburi recipe and ingredients are like gyudon, or beef rice, except that gyudon has thinner beef slices.
To cook Chaliapin Steak Don, get ready a medium-sized beef tenderloin or sirloin steak.
Top sirloin grade is not needed. It may be stronger in flavour, but it is unnecessary. Look out for packaging that reads “sirloin”, or it can be labelled as “fillet” outside of the United States. Beef labelled as “Standard” is also more affordable.
You can also prepare the recipe with chicken if desired. Read below to learn how to recreate the recipe using chicken.
You will need to prepare onions, butter and soy sauce. Cooking oil can be used instead of butter if you do not have any. However, butter is preferred as it adds a richness to the overall taste of the sauce.
For garnishing, chopped green onions is typical. However, you may also use chopped parsley or coriander.
The recipe for Food Wars is unique as the steak is served in a bowl (‘don’ in Japanese) with rice, hence making Chaliapin Steak Don!
So, if you are shopping in an Asian grocery mart, buy some short-grain Japanese rice to cook too. Short-grain Japanese rice is slightly chewier in texture with stickier grains. This helps with soaking the sauce. Otherwise, normal fine-grain rice is fine.
You can also buy umeboshi (plum) paste to add to the rice for a more authentic Japanese experience. This should be available online or in an Asian grocery mart.
How to make Chaliapin steak with chicken instead
Some people may not enjoy the taste of beef. To avoid beef for this donburi recipe, you can try chicken breast or thigh, a great substitute for protein.
The way to tenderise fresh chicken is to cut lightly on side of the chicken flesh. Make horizontal cuts on one side, and vertical cuts on the other side. Ensure that the width of the cuts is thinner than your meat. That way, the onion enzymes can penetrate the protein.
Blend onions, garlic and ginger together, then add oyster sauce. Marinate the chicken with this and place it in an airtight container. Place in the fridge overnight for frozen chicken and about 30 minutes for fresh meat.
To cook the chicken, pan-fry it with some oil and flip the chicken around for about 15 minutes. For a better crust, dust with some garlic powder midway. Finally, rest the chicken for a while before eating.
In this Chaliapin Steak Don recipe, we serve the beef slices with rice. You can also experiment with the dish to be served with vegetables.
Boiled then sauteed potatoes with chopped parsley and watercress gives the palate a more balanced taste. Otherwise, you may try preparing peas and corns for a sweeter flavour.
Place the onion marinated beef in a sandwich for a convenient way of eating. The dry texture of bread can soak up the marinate sauce and oil, so you will be able to really taste the meat.
The most crucial element for Chaliapin Steak is the marinade sauce and the marination process. Here are some tips to keep in mind so that you get the best out of your tenderised meat!
Preparing the protein
- Cutting lines in the meat or making slight cuts will help the onion juice seep through faster. This applies to both beef and chicken.
- You may also choose to use a tenderiser tool like a meat maller to further soften the beef. However, this is optional.
- When you're slicing the beef after cooking, we recommend slicing the meat thinly as how you would slice for a Philly cheesesteak.
- Finding the right oil, sugar, acid and salt balance is important. Too much acid can toughen your meat. So measure carefully to get the right amounts.
- Onions are preferred, since its low-calorie and easily bought. Research also suggests that more onions can keep meat fresher longer as well.
- Alternatively, you can use other ingredients e.g. lemon, vinegar, and even yoghurt to tenderise the beef.
- The more onions used, the more flavour from the onion is added to the meat. The same effect is achieved by marinating for a longer period of time. Onions add a savoury flavour in comparison to other tenderising agents like lemon.
- To achieve the desired tenderisation, resting the beef in the onion marinade for 3-4 days is enough. But even letting it sit in onions for an hour is sufficient, and will allow you to cut through the meat with a fork.
- If you are using raw chicken, cook it within two days of marination.
Chaliapin Steak Don | Food Wars Recipe
- 250 g sirloin steak
- 1½ pc onion, diced
- 300 g short-grain Japanese rice, cooked
- 1 tbsp pickled plum paste (umeboshi)
- potato starch
- green onions, chopped
- 4 tbsp red wine
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp butter
- Mince the onion. Tenderise the steak, then cover with chopped onions. Rest it for an hour. Then remove onions and sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper.
- Melt butter in a skillet and sauté the onions. Add salt and pepper. Set aside the onion.
- Add some cooking oil to skillet. Cook the beef till golden brown on both sides. Remove the beef and let it rest on the side.
- Add red wine to the skillet, mixing with meat juice. Once reduced, add the onions again and sauté. Then, add butter, soy sauce and potato starch. Let the flavours blend into a sauce.
- Next, mix umeboshi with cooked rice. Then, slice the steak meat into bite-sized pieces. Arrange the slices on your rice.
- Finally, pour the sauce with onions on the top of your Chaliapin steak and rice. Sprinkle chopped green onion on your donburi. Serve and enjoy while it is hot!
Calories have been calculated using an online calculator. Nutritional information offered on Honest Food Talks is for general information purposes and are only rough estimations.
Wondering how the whole process looks like? You can certainly watch episode 7 of the anime, Food Wars! : Shokugeki No Soma to review the original steps. However, you can refer to High Thymes’ Youtube video recipe that perfectly shows the whole process too.
Now, you are ready to declare yourself an accomplished fan of Food Wars after you’ve cooked this!
Interestingly enough, in the anime, they chose the rice option as in that episode the characters are debating over the value of donburi. Donburi in Japanese culture is the equivalent of American fast food since it is supposed to be easy to make.
Perhaps after trying out this Chaliapin Steak don recipe, its cleverness and convenience might also win you over!
If this recipe has inspired you, be sure to share it on Instagram and tag @honestfoodtalks!
Have you ever heard of Shell Steak? Learn more about this grilled Korean-style steak is one that uses their special BBQ marinade sauce.