Hayashi Rice (ハヤシライス)

Along with the more ubiquitous Karei Raisu (curry rice), Hayashi Rice, is a family staple in the Japanese home. Much like mac & cheese in the US, Hayashi Rice is a meal that kids love, and one that evokes childhood memories for grown-ups.

Since most households use “instant” roux blocks (as is the case with Japanese curry), Hayashi Rice is a simple comfort food that doesn’t require a lot of fuss. But as good as the roux blocks are, my from-scratch method doesn’t take all that much longer, and the results are definitely worth the few extra minutes to add spices and make the roux. Plus, it’s all natural without MSG or other weird ingredients.

Although this dish has been around for less than 100 years, no one really seems to know where the name comes from. A common story is that it comes from the western term “hashed beef”. While I know that Japanese people have a tendency of mashing together English words, I just don’t buy it. Hashed beef would have more likely turned into something along the lines of “Hashibeefu”. But there’s another theory that the name comes from someone named Hayashi, which seems a more plausible explanation since Hayashi is a pretty common Japanese name.

Regardless of it’s origins, it’s a spiritual cousin to karei raisu that’s somewhere between beef bourguignon and beef stew. With a dark luscious sauce made with caramelized onions, red wine, tomatoes and demi glace, it’s rich and full of flavor. The roux thickens it giving the sauce a gravy like consistency that envelopes the tender beef, onions and mushrooms.

If you happen to end up with leftovers, the sauce is fantastic served over omurice (an omelet with fried rice in the middle). What I usually do is brown some garlic in butter then fry the rice, then make an omelet with an egg or two that I stuff with the garlic rice. Heat up some of the Hayashi and pour it on top and it’s pure heaven.

Hayashi Rice (ハヤシライス)

6-8 servings
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound well marbled beef chuck cut into 3/4″ pieces
3 onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
3 small cloves garlic minced
1/4 teaspoon baking soda (optional)
2 cups red wine
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 cloves
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon tonkatsu sauce (or Worcestershire sauce)
1 tablespoon concentrated demi-glace (not the canned japanese kind)
2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sweet paprika

8 ounces small button or crimini mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and halved if large
8 ounces cippolini onions, peeled and trimmed
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup all purpose flour

Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium high heat until hot, then add the oil. Generously salt and pepper the beef, then add it to the hot oil. Fry undisturbed for a few minutes or until the beef has a golden brown crust on one side, then flip the beef and fry until browned on the second side. The browned crust is were the flavor is at, so the more crust the better.

Transfer the beef to a plate and set aside. Add some more oil if needed, then add the onions and garlic. Cover with a lid and cook over medium low heat for 10 minutes. Remove the lid, then add the baking soda if you want to speed up the caramelization process. Fry the onions, stirring frequently until it’s about 1/6 of the original volume, and is dark brown and glossy. If you add baking soda, this should take about 20 minutes, if you don’t, it will take about an hour.

Return the beef to the pot along with the wine, water, bay leaf, cloves, tomato past, tonkatsu sauce, demi-glace, soy sauce, and paprika, along with the mushrooms and cippolini onions. Partially cover with a lid and cook for 1-2 hours or until the beef is very tender. While the beef is cooking, heat the butter and flour in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Stir continuously until the butter is melted, then stop stirring until the mixture starts taking on a color. Continue cooking and stirring at regular intervals until the roux has reached a caramel brown color. Remove from the heat.

When the beef is tender, turn the heat down to low, add the roux a spoonful at a time and stir vigorously to keep it from clumping. The hayashi rice should start getting thick pretty quickly (you might not need all the roux). Stop when you’re happy with the thickness. Serve with hot white rice.

  • Soos

    Yum!

  • http://iamafeeder.net Jackie

    Mhmmm, Japanese curry and rice was always one of my favourites when I was a kid. It’s not as spicy as other curries and has a lovely sweetness to it – perfection! We always cheated and used the roux blocks, though…

    Jax x

  • http://www.kickasschef.com kenneth

    Awesome, I think I would like to try this chicken! Thanks for sharing this fab recipe. :D

    • http://www.kickasschef.com kenneth

      I meant “with chicken”.

  • http://www.pastrychefonline.com/ onlinepastrychef

    This sounds perfect for cool, dreary evenings. I can def get behind some comforting, mac&cheese-like-in-its-appeal, Hayashi rice. No matter how it got its name!

  • Anonymous

    Mmmmm…as I look to weave more Asian cooking into my repertoire, this dish seems like an excellent starting point. Thx – S

  • Anonymous

    I grew up eating curry rice, but this a new one for me. I’ll give it a try–looks delicious!

  • http://twitter.com/lesliehuhl Leslie Hunter Uhl

    Sounds like a wonderful meal or several to me! Yum!

  • Cookincanuck

    What a gorgeous dish. The flavors are so tempting and the color makes me want to dive right in.

  • Jools_1975

    That sounds like a true comfort meal, one question I have and tell me if I’m being stupid what is a demi glaze?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      It’s a french sauce that’s made by reducing veal stock for hours. You
      can buy it at kitchen specialty stores like Williams Sonoma or Sur La
      Table, or at gourmet grocery stores. It’s not necessary, if you can’t
      find it, but it adds a ton of depth to the dish.

      2011/4/5 Disqus :

  • http://www.journeykitchen.com Kulsum

    Yeah agree I don’t think I buy the first theory either. This looks lovely! I like the sound of it too “hayashi rice”! yum

  • Hyperb0wl

    i know its basically implied, but you don’t state to deglaze the pan after browning the meat. i follow instructions blindly so i ended up burning all the caramelized brown bits while making your amazing black curry. i learned my lesson and deglazed the pan before adding the onions for this recipe. just thought i should point it out. this was amazing by the way on top of omurice.

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Thanks for the tip! I actually don’t deglaze the pan as the moisture
      released from the onions is usually enough to release the browned bits
      from the pan (especially if you cover the pot with a lid for a bit),
      but deglazing with some wine would definitely work as well.

      2011/4/5 Disqus :

  • http://profiles.google.com/aliwishesbear diana li

    i always make katsu curry rice (usually from the cubes). ill have to give this a try some time. looks delish!

  • http://profiles.google.com/aliwishesbear diana li

    i always make katsu curry rice from cubes but this looks delicious. i’ll have to give it a try next time.

  • http://www.premiumeyecenters.com Intraocular lenses

    From the name of the recipe I can figure out that is an Asian type, Japanese is more plausible, especially they use rice which is a label for Asia. Anyway, doesn’t matter the origins , important is the taste and as I can see this taste delicious, I didn’t try it but I surely do it soon.

  • http://profiles.google.com/ky.foley14 Ky Foley

    Oh my goodness everything on your site looks amazing! I can’t wait to try this recipe, thanks so much for sharing, love your blog! =]

  • Rachel (S[d]OC)

    Love the flavors in this. It does sound wonderful by itself, but your suggestion of a rice-filled omlet underneath it sounds even more tempting.

  • http://www.thenovicechefblog.com Jessica

    This sounds like Japanese comfort food to me! It sounds absolutely delicious!

  • http://thefilipinofriends.com Kat

    LOVE IT! would love to share this with my blog with credits to your site! I will have to give this a try!

  • Jenny

    what happens if you didn’t put the red wine?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      You could substitute water or stock, but it would be less fruity, less
      sweet, and have less acidity.

      2011/5/13 Disqus

  • Seano

    At what point do you add the garlic? I would have thought with the onions, but don’t see it listed.

    Thanks

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Nice catch! The garlic goes in with the onions. I’ve updated the recipe.

      2011/5/22 Disqus :

  • Synclaire232

    In the Japanese restaurants that I see, they split the omurice open, like from Tompopo I think? And they put brown thick gravy on top. Is it the same as yours or is it completely different? I`ve seen it on youtube on countless videos I just have to know what it is!!!

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Omurice is a slightly different dish. It’s usually made with fried rice mixed with ketchup, put into an omelette and covered in a gravy (sometimes with mushrooms). This one is topped with hayashi rice.

      2011/8/15 Disqus

  • Yuki

    I never knew red wine was used in Hayashi Rice. I didn’t have any demi glace but I don’t know what it would’ve done to further the already rich flavor all the other ingredients produces. I have to say this beats any Hayashi Rice I’ve ever had back home. Absolutely delicious. I used smoked paprika and it worked wonderfully. And the roux! Make this and you’ll never consider even picking up those ready made roux boxes at the store. Everyone should try this right away!

  • Tg34t34t34

    “Plus, it’s all natural without MSG or other weird ingredients.”

    MSG isn’t any ‘weirder’ or more unsafe than table salt is. You have tomato paste and soy sauce, both of which contain glutamates. Monosodium Glutamate is simply the sodium salt of glutamate; chemically it’s just glutamate in a crystallized form due to one sodium cation it has, and it’s the exact same ions they break apart into when dissolved and digested as what you’d get from eating something from a naturally occurring source of glutamate. It’s no different a concept than table salt in the sense that any foods that are naturally salty have sodium and chloride ions in them when you consume them, and table salt is simply the sodium salt of chlorine, in a form that happens to be crystallized at room temperature.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Trevor-Luscombe/1835861597 Trevor Luscombe

      I completely agree. MSG has just become synonymous with foods that are bad for you, somewhat not helped by it’s prevalence in manufactured foods. I remember seeing a documentary on BBC where they fed a group of MSG sensitive people an ‘MSG free’ meal which all natural ingredients (all naturally filled with MSG), then a typical ‘Chinese restaurant’ buffet that had been specifically made contain no MSG. The rest of the story is obvious.. It’s a personal decision, if you don’t like it too bad, you’re simply missing out.

      • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

        Except MSG is not natural. It’s lab synthesized. I don’t have issues with foods that naturally contain glutamic acids. I just don’t see the point of adding a compound that’s been manipulated in a lab, when you can build umami in a dish through natural sources of glutamic acids. My biggest issue with MSG, isn’t about whether it’s bad for you or not, it’s that people use it it to cheat, skipping tried and true methods of developing umami compounds (such as through the Maillard reaction) and opting instead to sprinkle on a powder. I also find that using MSG leaves a lingering umami taste in your mouth in the same way that modified sugars (such as sucralose) leave a cloying sweetness in your mouth. It’s unpleasant and unnecessary, so why use it?

  • http://tofoodwithluv.blogspot.com/ Fern @ To Food with Love

    Hi! Just made this last week and it was amazing! Thanks for such a great recipe!!

  • taisuke

    i am a moslem and wine (and also alcohlic drink) is prohibited for us. can we substitute red wine with vinegar (acetic acid) to make the taste?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Nope unfortunately wine that has undergone the final stage of fermentation (to become vinegar) does not have the same flavor as wine. Aside from that it is very sour. Try looking for halal wine (non alcoholic), otherwise you could substitute a small quantity of grape juice with water.

      • taisuke

        arigatou gozaimashita

  • MarleMason

    this looks so good!

    btw, i’m just wondering, how do you obtain this “Demi-glace” sauce, I assume you have to make one yourself since I couldn’t find them locally? Is it possible to find it in a local supermarket and which brand do you recommend? Or if you have to make it from scratch, would you please tell me how? And since it seems like we have to make it in batch and we’re using only a tablespooon, how long can we keep the sauce for? can we freeze it and use it some other time?

    thank you~!!

    marle

  • sho_Opao

    hello, i was wondering if i can substitute beef broth cubes instead of the demi glace? thank you!

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Yep, beef bouillon cubes aren’t the same thing, but it would be a suitable substitute. Keep in mind that bouillon cubes are going to be much more salty than demi-glace, so you may need to adjust for that elsewhere.

      • Ann

        So aside from beef bouillon cubes, are there any other substitute you can recommend for demi-glaze? I’m a little bit worried of the bouillons saltiness…

        • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

          You could try and take some low/no sodium beef broth and boil it down until its about 1 tablespoon of liquid. —
          Sent from Mailbox for iPhone

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