Savory pan-seared carrot beef rolls glazed with homemade teriyaki sauce. This Japanese home-cooked dish is great for weeknight dinner and bento!
When my kids were small, I tried to incorporate vegetables in their favorite dishes and flavors. This simple trick really helps to introduce them to enjoy a variety of food at a young age. I’ve shared a number of kid-friendly recipes, and today we’re going to make another favorite kid-approved recipe – Nikumaki (肉巻き) or meat roll.
What is Nikumaki (Meat Roll)
Nikumaki is often made with thinly sliced beef or pork. The most common cut would be thinly sliced pork belly, pork loin, or beef rib eye. The paper-thin meat cooks really fast, so it’s an ideal cut for pan-searing.
The filling for nikumaki is very versatile. You can include in-season vegetables or year-round vegetables you always have in the refrigerator.
Here are some of the vegetables that pair well with the meat roll (the most common ones in bold).
- Bell pepper
- Green beans
- Gobo (burdock root)
- Iceburg lettuce
- Shiso leaves
Non-Veggie Fillings include:
- Boiled egg
- Mushrooms (enoki, king oyster mushrooms, shimeji, shiitake)
Today I will show you how to make Carrot Beef Rolls.
How to Prepare Carrot Beef Rolls
Carrot is almighty vegetable that works with almost every dish and it’s available year round. With a few Japanese pantry condiments, these delicious rolls can be made in a flash.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Thinly sliced beef (get “Shabu Shabu” beef) or slice your own beef
- Potato starch (cornstarch)
- Soy sauce
5 Easy Steps
- Blanch the carrot strips in boiling water for 2-3 minutes.
- Roll the carrot strips in a beef slice.
- Coat the beef rolls with potato starch (cornstarch).
- Pan sear the beef rolls.
- Season them with mirin and soy sauce.
- Blanching carrots may seem extra work, but this ensures that the carrot inside beef is perfectly cooked. It’s the only way you can focus on searing the beef without overcooking it.
- Tightly roll up so the fillings won’t fall off.
- The starch will lock in all the juice from the meat while keeping it moist. Then after the sauce is added, it will help thicken the sauce and absorb it well.
- Shake the frying pan to coat the meat well with the sauce.
How to Serve Carrot Beef Rolls
This Carrot Beef Rolls recipe makes a fabulous main dish! For a healthy and balanced dinner, you just need to serve it with steamed rice, miso soup, and one or two more side dishes.
Carrot Beef Rolls
- ¾ lb thinly sliced beef (chuck or rib eye) (I use “Shabu Shabu” meat from a Japanese grocery store; if you can't get thinly sliced meat, you can slice your own, click here)
- ¾ lb carrots
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup potato starch or cornstarch
- 2 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, rice bran, canola, etc.) (divided)
- Gather all the ingredients.
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. If you don't have thinly sliced beef, cut the block of rib eye into thin slices following this instruction. FYI, each slice is roughly 20 grams.
To Prepare the Carrot Beef Rolls
- Peel the carrot and cut off the ends.
- Cut the carrot in half widthwise (or the width of your sliced beef) and then cut it into thin slabs.
- Cut the slabs into thin julienned strips.
- Blanch the julienned strips in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, or until tender. Alternatively, you can microwave the carrot.
- Drain the carrot strips and roughly divide them into the number of beef slices (I have 16 thinly sliced beef).
- Prepare 2-3 slices of beef on the cutting board. Sprinkle black pepper on each beef slice. Place the carrot strips at the bottom end of the beef slice and start rolling up.
- Continue with the rest of beef and carrot.
- Lightly coat the beef rolls with potato starch (cornstarch), shaking off the excess.
To Cook the Carrot Beef Rolls
- Heat a large frying pan on medium heat. When it's hot, add 1 Tbsp oil and distribute it evenly. When the oil is hot, add the beef rolls. It is very important to work in batches, instead of crowding the pan and end up steaming the beef rolls.
- When each beef roll is nicely seared all around, transfer to a plate.
- Work on the next batch. If necessary, add the oil into the pan. When all the beef rolls are nicely seared, put them back into the pan.
- After giving a quick sear to warm up the beef rolls, add mirin and soy sauce.
- When the sauce gets sizzling, quickly coat the beef rolls with the sauce. Remove from the heat as the sauce will quickly thicken with the potato starch from the beef rolls.
- Cut the beef rolls in half or you can serve them without cutting. Enjoy!
- You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 3 days or in the freezer for a month.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on May 30, 2011. The images and the blog content were updated in March 2021.