Zabuton Steak with Yakiniku Sauce

The addition of a rich and flavorful sauce when serving a perfectly-grilled steak can really elevate a meal. Whether it’s a traditional steakhouse sauce like bearnaise or something spicy like a chimichurri, it’s a great way to make an everyday steak a great experience. Yakiniku sauce is traditionally served in Japanese steakhouses to add an extra punch to meats. 

Seared NY strip steak with yakiniku sauce and steamed rice

A Fusion Steak Recipe

When you cook most of your meals on a Traeger grill, perfectly (but simply) grilled meats become something of a regular occurrence. There’s really nothing quite like a steak cooked edge-to-edge pink with an excellent seared crust. In order to take the meals to the next level and keep it interesting, we often try to find tasty sauces to serve alongside our steaks. Yakiniku sauce is a savory dipping sauce commonly found in Japanese steakhouses and has a distinct sweet undertone. It’s somewhat similar to teriyaki sauce, but has more sesame flavors which really compliments grilled meat. 

We whipped together this simple but elevated sauce in just a few minutes while the steak was cooking, and served it alongside the sliced meat so that each diner could dip to their heart’s content. The name of the sauce– yakiniku– literally means “grilled meat” in Japanese, and you’ll find variations of this kind of sauce at traditional Japanese restaurants. Making it at home can make a typical weeknight meal taste like you’re dining out!

KEY INGREDIENTS

  • Garlic
  • Soy sauce
  • Mirin or sake
  • White sugar
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Sriracha sauce or chili paste
  • Sesame oil
  • Sesame seeds
  • Zabuton Steak- strip steak will also work
  • Salt & pepper

Once you’ve made this sauce a time or two, you can totally eyeball it to make it your own. We added sriracha sauce to our recipe to add a spicy flavor to the meal. You can definitely omit the hot stuff to keep it a bit more traditional. 

Piece of NY strip steak dipped in sauce

To make this recipe super easy, we use crushed frozen garlic, which defrosts really quickly and eliminates the need to peel and crush individual garlic cloves. Each little cube is about the equivalent of a good-sized clove, so feel free to add more if you like your food more garlicky. Our favorite brand is Dorot, and you can find it at Trader Joe’s stores, among others. 

Traditional recipes call for mirin, which is a sweet rice wine seasoning. It’s similar to rice wine vinegar, but less acidic and has a higher sugar content. You can also use Japanese sake in this recipe in place of mirin, but add a little bit more sugar to the recipe to balance out the flavors. Interestingly, mirin and sake are very similar, and you can drink both, but often mirin found in America is labeled as “seasoning” and not really suitable for drinking. 

To add a little tang back to this recipe, we took the creative liberty of adding rice wine vinegar to the mix. It is distinctly sour and acidic and we think it balances out the sweetness of the mirin and sugar in the recipe. You can absolutely omit it if you’d rather. 

And sesame seeds and sesame oil are critical parts of this recipe, that shouldn’t be overlooked. You can really load in the sesame seeds when you make it, ensuring that you get some seeds stuck to the meat in every bite. For added sesame flavor, try toasting half of the whole seeds before using. There’s something amazing about the flavor of sesame paired with the slight char on a perfectly cooked steak. 

WHY COOKING THIS ON THE TRAEGER WORKS 

While the main part of this dish is the steak, the dipping sauce is a critical piece that brings it all together. While the steak is reverse searing on the grill, you can easily make the sauce in a grill-proof saucepan on the grill, and allow it to reduce briefly while searing the steak at high heat at the end. This all cuts down on dishes and dirtying the kitchen, and it’s fun to be able to say everything in a dish was cooked outdoors!

STEP-BY-STEP

  • Preheat your Traeger grill to 225*.
  • Season your steak with a simple blend of salt and pepper on all sides.
  • Place the steak in the center of the preheated grill and allow to cook for 20 minutes before checking the internal temperature. 
  • While the steak is cooking, combine the sauce ingredients (except the sesame seeds) in a small grill-proof saucepan or bowl. Whisk to incorporate and to dissolve the sugar.
  • Place the saucepan or bowl on the grates of the grill while the steak cooks.
  • When the steak has reached the desired internal temperature of 125*, remove the steak and the pan from the grill and increase the temperature to 400*. 
  • Once the grill is hot, place the pan back in the grill and sear the steak on all sides. 
  • ((Want to learn more about reverse searing? Check out my tutorial here)
  • Allow the pan to get hot and the sauce to bubble, reducing slightly.
  • Remove the steak from the grill, tent with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Carefully remove the pan from the grill and let it cool slightly.
  • Transfer the sauce to a serving dish and sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds.
  • Cut the steak against the grain and serve immediately with yakiniku sauce for dipping. 
Dipping New York strip steak in yakiniku sauce

SIMILAR RECIPES TO TRY

There are a bunch of delicious sauces featured in my cookbook, which you can buy here. Among them are salsas (like pomegranate and fig or Santa-Maria style), pesto, smoked Bearnaise and six different kinds of BBQ sauces. 

Products used in this cook:

To complete this meal, we served the steak and sauce alongside a scoop of fluffy white rice and some quick stir-fried vegetables. It was the perfect weeknight meal that came together in a flash and was not your typical steak and potatoes dinner. 

Did you make this recipe?
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Finished NY strip steak with yakiniku sauce and steamed rice

Grilled Zabuton Steak with Yakiniku Sauce

thisjewcanque
A perfectly reverse-seared steak will soon become one of your favorite cook-at-home meals thanks to the cooking perfection of the Traeger grill. Paired here with an Asian-style dipping sauce, you have the perfect stay at home date night dinner.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Resting time 5 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course beef, Main Course
Cuisine American, Asian, fusion
Servings 2

Equipment

  • Traeger grill
  • Small grill-proof sauce pan
  • Small bowl for finished dipping sauce

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin or sake
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce or chili paste
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 Zabuton steak
  • Salt & pepper

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your Traeger grill to 225*
  • Season the Zabuton steak on all sides with a blend of salt and pepper
  • Put the steak in the preheated grill and cook for about 30 minutes at this lower temperature
  • While the steak is cooking, make the sauce by combining the remaining ingredients except sesame seeds in a grill-proof saucepan
  • Place the sauce on the grill to cook while the steak continues cooking
  • When the steak has reached the desired internal temperature of 125*, remove the steak and the saucepan from the grill and increase the temperature to 400*
  • When the grill gets hot, place the saucepan back in the grill
  • Sear the steak on all sides for about 60 seconds per side
  • Allow the pan to get hot and the sauce to bubble, reducing slightly
  • Pull the steak from the grill, tent with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes
  • Carefully remove the saucepan from the grill and let it cool briefly
  • Transfer the sauce to a serving dish and sprinkle generously with sesame seeds
  • Cut the steak against the grain and serve with yakiniku sauce for dipping

Notes

Once you have made this sauce a time or two, you can eyeball the ingredients and adjust them according to your flavor preferences.
If you cannot find a zabuton steak, try a New York Strip steak instead!
Keyword asian grilled steak