Seared Beef Sushi / Aburi

Attention all beef lovers and sushi sceptics! If you've ever found yourself craving the flavours of sushi but shying away from seafood, this Beef Carpaccio Sushi/Aburi recipe is about to become your new favourite.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
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Combining the richness of beef carpaccio with the versatility of Japanese sushi, this dish offers a tantalising fusion of flavours and textures that will delight you. Tender slices of steak, lightly seared and paired with seasoned sushi rice, topped with a drizzle of savoury-sweet sauce, creamy Japanese mayonnaise, and fresh garnishes. Each bite is a symphony of flavours that will leave you craving more. Whether you’re a die-hard carnivore or simply looking for a beef sushi alternative, this recipe promises to impress both your palate and your guests.

For those of us who love sushi but aren’t fans of seafood, beef aburi sushi is an amazing alternative.

spoon drizzling ponzu sauce onto sushi

Why This Recipe Is Amazing

  • Quick and Easy: With a total prep and cook time of just 30 minutes, this recipe is perfect for both weeknight dinners and special occasions.
  • Ideal for non-seafood eaters who crave delicious sushi.
  • Rich Flavour: The tender beef, seasoned to perfection and slightly charred for aburi-style, adds a rich, smoky flavour that complements the delicate sushi rice.
  • Healthy and Satisfying: Packed with protein from the beef and balanced with light, vinegared rice, this dish is both nutritious and satisfying.
  • Customisable: Easily adaptable to your taste preferences—adjust the amount of garlic, tweak the sauce, or add your favourite toppings like avocado or spicy mayo.
  • Visually Stunning: The combination of the juicy beef, glossy sushi rice, and colourful garnishes makes for an impressive presentation that will wow your guests.

Aburi is a Japanese term that refers to a method of lightly searing the surface of fish or meat using a flame torch or a hot grill. The word “aburi” means “flame-seared” in Japanese. This technique imparts a smokey flavour and a slightly charred texture to the food while keeping the inside raw or only partially cooked, creating a delightful contrast in taste and texture.

beef sushi without seafood sitting on plate

ingredients are needed for This Beef Sushi

  • For the Rice:
    • Sushi rice: is essential for its sticky texture, which helps the rice hold its shape when forming sushi. This rice is specifically designed to absorb the vinegar mixture well, creating the distinctive flavour and texture of sushi rice.
    • Rice vinegar: is used to season the cooked sushi rice, it gives it a slightly tangy flavour that is characteristic of sushi rice.
    • White sugar: balances the acidity of the vinegar and adds a slight sweetness to the sushi rice.
    • Salt: Salt enhances the overall flavour of the sushi rice.
  • For the Beef:
    • Beef steak (porterhouse/sirloin, ribeye, or tenderloin): These cuts of beef are tender and flavourful, making them ideal for this dish. They are easy to slice thinly and offer a rich, beefy taste that complements the sushi rice.
    • Salt and pepper: Basic seasoning for the beef to enhance its natural flavours before cooking.
  • For the Sauce:
    • Mirin: Mirin is a sweet Japanese rice wine that adds subtle sweetness and depth to the sauce.
    • Soy sauce: Light soy sauce provides a salty, umami flavour that balances the sweetness of the mirin.
    • Garlic: Garlic adds a pungent, aromatic flavour to the sauce, enhancing the overall taste of the dish.
  • Extras:
    • Japanese mayonnaise (Kewpie Mayo): This type of mayonnaise is creamier and slightly sweeter than regular mayonnaise, adding a rich, umami flavour that complements the beef and rice.
    • Red onion, finely sliced: Red onions add a sharp, slightly sweet flavour and a crunchy texture that contrasts nicely with the tender beef and soft rice.
    • Spring onion/scallion, finely sliced: Spring onions add a fresh, mild onion flavour and a pop of colour to the dish.
spoon drizzling ponzu sauce onto sushi

To ensure thin slices of beef, here are some tips:

  1. Chill the Beef: Place the beef in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes before slicing. This firms up the meat, making it easier to slice thinly.
  2. Use a Sharp Knife: A sharp knife is essential for slicing thin, uniform pieces of beef. A chef’s knife or slicing knife works well for this purpose.
  3. Slice Against the Grain: Identify the direction of the muscle fibres (grain) in the beef and slice perpendicular to them. This helps break up the muscle fibres, resulting in tender slices.
  4. Slice at an Angle: Slice the beef at a slight angle rather than straight down. This creates wider slices and exposes more surface area, enhancing the texture and tenderness.
  5. Practice Controlled Movements: Use smooth, controlled motions when slicing to ensure even thickness throughout. Avoid applying too much pressure, as this can result in uneven slices.
  6. Slice Across a Large Surface: If possible, slice the beef on a large cutting board or surface to allow for better control and more consistent slices.

By following these tips and techniques, you can achieve beautifully thin slices of beef for your Beef Carpaccio Sushi/Aburi recipe.

beef carpaccio sushi surrounded by small bowls of ingredients

Setting You Up For Success – Tips & Tricks

  • Rinse the Rice Thoroughly: Make sure to rinse the sushi rice under cold water until the water runs clear. This helps remove excess starch and prevents the rice from becoming too sticky.
  • Use the Right Ratio of Water: The ratio of water to rice is crucial for achieving the perfect texture. Stick to the recommended 1¼ cups of water for 1 cup of rice for best results.
  • Season the Rice Correctly: When seasoning the rice with vinegar, sugar, and salt, make sure the sugar and salt completely dissolve in the vinegar before mixing it with the rice. This ensures even flavour distribution.
  • Choose the Right Cut of Beef: Opt for tender cuts like porterhouse/sirloin, ribeye, or tenderloin for the beef. These cuts are easier to slice thinly and offer a tender texture that pairs well with sushi rice.
  • Let the Beef Rest Before Slicing: Allow the cooked beef to rest for a few minutes before slicing. This allows the juices to be redistributed and ‘set’, resulting in juicier and more flavourful slices.
  • Adjust Sauce to Taste: Taste the sauce before drizzling it over the beef and adjust the seasoning as needed. You can add more mirin for sweetness or soy sauce for saltiness according to your preference.
  • Use Wet Hands for Shaping or try an ice cream scooper!: Keep a bowl of water nearby when shaping the rice balls. Wetting your hands prevents the rice from sticking, making it easier to shape into uniform balls or ovals. Using an ice cream scoop helps ensure that each rice ball is uniformly shaped and sized, making the assembly process quicker and more efficient.
  • Experiment with Toppings: Feel free to get creative with toppings after you tried the base recipe! Add avocado slices, tobiko (fish roe), or cucumber strips for extra flavour and texture.


  1. Rice Too Sticky: If the rice turns out too sticky, try rinsing it more thoroughly before cooking. You can also adjust the vinegar mixture by adding a bit more vinegar to balance out the stickiness.
  2. Beef Overcooked: You want to aim for rare, medium rare beef for optimal flavour. Further heat is then applied by using a blow torch or grilling/broiling the surface. If the beef is overcooked and tough, try reducing the cooking time or lowering the heat slightly. Thinner slices also cook faster, so make sure to slice the beef thinly against the grain. See my tips above for cutting the beef thinly.
  3. Sauce Too Sweet or Salty: If the sauce is too sweet, add a splash of soy sauce to balance it out. Conversely, if it’s too salty, add a touch more mirin or a squeeze of lemon juice to mellow the flavour.
  4. Rice Balls Falling Apart: If the rice balls are falling apart, make sure to press the rice firmly when shaping them. Wetting your hands can also help prevent the rice from sticking and improve cohesion.
  5. Sauce Too Thin: If the sauce is too thin, you can thicken it by simmering it over low heat for a few more minutes until it reaches your desired consistency.
Beef carpaccio sushi pieces on grey plate

Frequently Asked Questions

When I made this dish on our live cooking show, some community members asked:

Can I use a different type of rice?

While short-grain sushi rice is traditionally used for sushi, you can experiment with other types of rice. However, keep in mind that the texture and flavour may vary.

Can I use a different cut of beef?

Yes, you can use other cuts of beef but keep in mind that they may require different cooking times and may not be as tender as the recommended cuts. The main purpose of aburi and sashimi in Japanese cuisine is that it is so tender it practically melts in your mouth with minimal need to chew. Tender cuts of beef are recommended for this reason.

Can I make this recipe ahead of time?

While the sushi rice and sauce can be prepared in advance, it’s best to cook the beef and assemble the sushi just before serving to ensure optimal freshness and flavour.

Where can I find Japanese ingredients like mirin and Kewpie mayo?

Japanese ingredients can typically be found in Asian grocery stores or in the international section of larger supermarkets. If you’re unable to find them locally, they can also be purchased online.

How do I store leftovers?

Leftover sushi should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and consumed within 1-2 days for the best taste and texture. Reheating may affect the quality of the dish, so it’s best enjoyed cold.

Can I freeze this dish?

The finished dish Is not recommended, no. Leftover sushi rice can be frozen separately for up to 1-2 months.

Can I customize the toppings?

While I’d love you to try the original recipe first, Absolutely! Feel free to get creative with toppings like sliced avocado, pickled ginger, or toasted sesame seeds to add your own personal touch to the dish.

Beef sushi topped with kewpie, scallion, onion and sauce sitting on grey plate.

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Beef carpaccio sushi pieces on grey plate

Seared Beef Sushi/Aburi

Servings 2
Calling all beef lovers and sushi skeptics! This Beef Carpaccio Sushi/Aburi offers a fusion of flavours perfect for those craving sushi without seafood. Small bite sized treats that are perfect for a light lunch or entertaining.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


For the Rice

  • 1 cup short-grain sushi rice
  • 1-¼ cup water
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • ½-1 tbsp white sugar
  • ½ tsp salt

For the Beef:

  • 500 gm (1 lb) beef steak something tender like porterhouse/sirloin, ribeye, or tenderloin
  • Salt and pepper

For the Sauce:

  • 3 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves minced


  • Japanese mayonnaise
  • Red onion finely sliced
  • spring onion/scallion finely sliced


Preparing the Rice:

  • Rinse the sushi rice under cold water until the water runs clear. This helps remove excess starch.
  • See pressure cooker and stove-top instructions above for detailed info.
    Saucepan Method> In a saucepan, combine the rinsed rice, seasoning and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 12-15 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender.>Allow to sit, covered for 5 minutes.
    Pressure Cooker Method> Combine rice, water and seasoning in a pressure cooker bowl. Seal properly and cook on high pressure for 4 minutes.> Allow to naturally release for 10 minutes before releasing the remaining pressure as per the cooker’s instructions.

Preparing the Beef:

  • Season the beef steak generously with salt and pepper on both sides.
  • Heat a skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. Add the steak and cook for about 3-4 minutes per side for medium-rare, or until cooked to your desired level of doneness.
  • Remove the steak from the heat and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing it thinly against the grain.

Making the Sauce:

  • In a small bowl, combine the mirin, light soy sauce, and minced garlic cloves. Set aside for 5-10 minutes to allow the garlic to release it's flavour.

Shaping the Rice Balls

  • Option 1: Hands. Take a small amount of sushi rice and form it into a rectangle or oval shape using wet hands. I like to use gloves and rub a little oil on my hands to prevent rice from sticking.
  • Option 2: Use an ice cream scoop! Lightly moisten an ice cream scoop with water to prevent the rice from sticking. Scoop a portion of sushi rice using the ice cream scoop, pressing it firmly but gently to form a compact ball or oval shape. Release the rice from the scoop onto a clean surface.
    Refine the Shape: If needed, use your hands (moistened with water) to gently refine the shape of the rice ball. The scoop should give you a good starting point for a uniform shape.

Assembling the Sushi:

  • Drizzle each rice ball with a little of the sauce before placing a slice of beef on top.
  • Using a kitchen torch or broiler, lightly torch the beef until it's slightly charred on top (this step is optional for aburi-style sushi).
  • Garnish with a dollop of Kewpie mayo and some finely sliced red onion and scallion.
  • Repeat the process with the remaining rice, beef, and toppings.
  • Drizzle a little more of the sauce over the sushi pieces to ensure they are nicely coated.


  • Arrange the Beef Carpaccio Sushi/Aburi on a platter and serve immediately or after refrigerating until cold if desired. I eat ASAP because I like the rice warm and also…I can't wait (Impatient!) but my husband likes them cold. Enjoy!!


Calories: 476kcal | Carbohydrates: 107g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Sodium: 1196mg | Potassium: 687mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 2083IU | Vitamin C: 35mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

Recipe Published: May 28, 2024 Last Updated: June 7, 2024
Lauren and Troy George, Creators of MissMollyMakes smiling to camera.

Hiya, I’m Lauren but you can call me Molly!

Former OR Nurse and self-taught home cook passionate about Approachable, No-Nonsense recipes to help you level up in the kitchen. Together with my husband Troy, we create simplified dishes for busy people with easy-to-find ingredients!
To learn more about us, our cooking show and more, click here!

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