Aspara Nikumaki (Beef and Asparagus Rolls) Recipe

Beef and Asparagus Rolls (Aspara Nikumaki)

The Spruce / Christine Ma

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 40 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
448 Calories
26g Fat
13g Carbs
32g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 448
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 26g 33%
Saturated Fat 8g 41%
Cholesterol 99mg 33%
Sodium 936mg 41%
Total Carbohydrate 13g 5%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 10g
Protein 32g
Vitamin C 1mg 7%
Calcium 26mg 2%
Iron 3mg 16%
Potassium 427mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Beef and asparagus rolls are known as, aspara nikumaki, in Japanese. Aspara means asparagus; niku means beef and maki means roll or wrap. In this dish, thinly sliced beef is marinated in a sweet and savory soy glaze, then wrapped around blanched asparagus spears and then pan-cooked.


  • 8 asparagus spears

  • 1 pound beef, shabu-shabu style, thinly sliced

  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1/2 cup sake

  • 2 tablespoons mirin

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

  • Japanese hot mustard (karashi), optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Beef and Asparagus Rolls (Aspara Nikumaki) ingredients

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  2. Combine soy sauce, sake, mirin, and sugar in a medium bowl and stir until mixed. Add thinly sliced beef and marinate in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

    beef in a bowl with a soy sauce, sake, mirin, and sugar marinade in a bowl

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  3. Meanwhile, trim the bottom of asparagus, then slice asparagus spears vertically in half or quarters, depending on the thickness of the spear.

    asparagus on a cutting board

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  4. Blanch asparagus in boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove from pot and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

    Blanched asparagus on a plate

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  5. Take 2 to 3 pieces of beef and gently spread out on a plate or cutting board. Lay 2 or 3 asparagus pieces across one edge of the sliced beef.

    asparagus on top of beef pieces on a plate

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  6. Gently roll up the asparagus in beef, tucking the end under the bottom of the roll. Repeat until all beef and asparagus have been used to make several rolls.

    asparagus wrapped in beef

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  7. In a large pan, heat canola oil over medium heat. Add beef and asparagus rolls to the pan and sear the beef until all sides are lightly and evenly browned.

    beef wrapped asparagus cooking in a pan

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  8. Add any remaining marinade to the pan and simmer the beef and asparagus rolls together for 1 to 2 minutes.

    beef and asparagus rolls in a pan

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  9. Slice each beef and asparagus roll into thirds or fourths, plate, then serve with Japanese hot mustard (karashi). The rolls can also be served as is, without any hot mustard.

    Beef and Asparagus Rolls (Aspara Nikumaki) on a platter, served with sauce

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

In Japanese cuisine, there are several varieties of meat and vegetable rolls, and recipes are not limited to beef and can be substituted with thinly sliced pork.

Very thinly sliced beef and pork are widely available at Japanese markets and other Asian markets. In Japanese markets, the thinnest type of meat is often labeled as “shabu-shabu,” which is reflective of the thin meat that is used in Japanese shabu-shabu style dishes. A slightly thicker, yet still thinly sliced cut of beef is referred to as “sukiyaki”, which is used in the traditional Japanese sukiyaki hot pot. Where Japanese or Asian supermarkets are not available, shaved cuts of beef or pork can be found at Western supermarkets or requested at the butcher.

For this recipe, either shaved beef, shabu-shabu or sukiyaki-style beef may be used. It is easier to work with the sukiyaki-style beef, as it does not tear as easily as the shabu-shabu style beef when wrapping the meat and vegetable rolls.

The flavor profile of the soy sauce glaze for this beef and asparagus roll is reminiscent of teriyaki sauce, but the sweetness can be easily adjusted to your preference by adding less or more sugar.

Aspara nikumaki (beef and asparagus rolls) can be served uncut, as the main course for lunch or dinner. After the rolls are cooked, they can also be cut into thirds and served as an appetizer or in a bento lunch. This dish also works well as finger food for potlucks and is kid-friendly.