Japanese Pepper Steak with Garlic Soy Sauce Butter

This delicious pepper steak dish is quick and simple enough to make on a weeknight but special enough for a weekend treat too. The garlic soy sauce butter is really delicious and there’s lovely warmth from the black pepper. The recipe is from Tim Anderson’s Your Home Izakaya, a cookbook sharing the cuisine of Japanese drinking dens.

Japanese Pepper Steak with Garlic Soy Sauce Butter

Like many izakaya favourites, this dish offers bold, satisfying flavours that are perfect with a bottle of beer or perhaps a glass of sake or shochu.

Read our full review of Your Home Izakaya by Tim Anderson.

Japanese Pepper Steak with Garlic Soy Sauce Butter

Japanese Pepper Steak With Garlic Soy Sauce Butter

One of my very favourite lunch spots in Japan was a little fast food shop called Pepper Lunch. Pepper Lunch is a chain, with over 200 branches in Japan and even more outside Japan. It’s not exactly the pinnacle of Japanese gastronomy, and my Japanese colleagues teased me for liking it so much, but damn, did they do some good pepper steak. It was cheap – suspiciously so – but it was always cooked perfectly and it was also really good beef, highly marbled and incredibly tender. Of course, the seasonings were so tasty (lots of pepper, lots of garlic, lots of soy sauce) that you probably could have cooked an old shoe in them and it would have tasted reasonably good. So this is my loving homage to Pepper Lunch.
Servings 2 servings
Author Tim Anderson


  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 300-400 g (10½–14 oz) ribeye steak, ideally at least 2.5 cm (1 in) thick, patted dry with paper towels
  • a very generous amount of coarsely ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sake
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 20 g (¾ oz) butter
  • 3 garlic cloves thinly sliced

Recipe Notes

Use your senses and intuition cooking steak or, better yet, a probe thermometer, to gauge the steak’s doneness. And remember: if you’re not sure how cooked it is, err on the side of rare. You can always cook it more. If you’re using a cut other than ribeye, slice the steak across the grain as you usually would; otherwise, the meat will be too tough and chewy.


  • Set a frying pan (skillet) over high heat and add the oil. Season the steak all over with the pepper. When the oil is smoking hot, lay the steak in the pan and cook it on one side until nicely browned, about 2–3 minutes. Turn and brown the other side, again for about 2 minutes. By this point the steak should be rare; keep cooking for a further 2 minutes for medium-rare and another 2 minutes after that for medium, flipping the steak every 20 seconds to form an even crust and cuisson. When the steak is cooked to your liking, remove it from the pan and leave to rest on a chopping board.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and add the water, then set the pan back over the heat and add the soy sauce, sake, honey, butter and garlic. Simmer for 4–5 minutes until the liquid reduces slightly and the garlic infuses into the gravy, then remove from the heat.
  • Slice the steak into bite-size cubes, about 2 cm (¾ in) wide, and toss through the pan sauce.

From start to finish, including ingredients prep, this recipe takes only 20-30 minutes, making it a great choice for a busy weekday evening, or anytime you want a tasty dinner fast!

Japanese Pepper Steak with Garlic Soy Sauce Butter

We enjoyed ours over rice with Addictive Cabbage (also in the book) on the side. A great alternative to the cabbage would be some pickles, or a simple crunchy green salad.

Japanese Pepper Steak with Garlic Soy Sauce Butter


If you decide to buy this book after reading our content, please consider clicking through our affiliate link, located within the post and in the footnote below.

Kavey Eats received a review copy of Your Home Izakaya by Tim Anderson from publisher Hardie Grant. Book photography by Laura Edwards. Our photography by Kavita Favelle.

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