Because I’ve had Japan on the brain, because I pretty much always have food on the brain, and because it is the season for beef stew, it wasn’t long before I started putting this together in my head .
I wanted this stew to be as authentic as possible, so I went to the Internets. I did a little research. I learned that in Japan a staple comfort food is brown curry that has many stew-like qualities: simmered beef, onion, carrots, and potatoes.
I marinated my stew beef in soy, tamarind, and grated ginger.
The most important piece to this dish is to take your curry powder and fry it with flour in oil to create a roux.
I had to run to run out from my apartment for a few minutes during the cooking process, and when I walked back in it smelled amazing! Beef stew slowly simmering on the stove-top- life can’t get much better than this.
I also added some authentic Japanese udon noodles when serving. I finished the stew with a toasted sesame oil cilantro drizzle.
- Start with your roux. Heat a good amount of peanut oil (like two or three tbsp) in a Cruseut or other soup pot. Peanut oil has a fairly low smoking point, so keep the heat at the medium-low level.
- Once the oil become fragrant, stir in a heaping tbsp of flour and a couple big spoonfuls of curry powder. I used muchi curry powder, but feel free to play with others. I wanted a nice brown curry powder for this dish, without having something that was going to taste distinctly Indian. When I make this dish in the future, I’m going to do a little more exploring and see about finding a real Japanese curry powder.
- Anyhow, whisk the spices into the oil and allow to toast and form a pasty sauce-like consistency.
- Stir in a half on onion that has been quartered. Sweat the onion with the lid covered, at least partially so, until soft.
- Stir in carrot and a couple cloves of minced garlic and cook for a couple more minutes.
- Push veggies to the side of the pot, and sear beef for just a couple of minutes. It might be a good idea to add a touch of peanut oil before adding beef. I didn’t do this, but I wish I would have.
- Add mirin, enough to cover the bottom of the pot, plus a little more. Bring up to a boil and simmer down for a few minutes.
- Stir in a handful of natural cane sugar and a generous amount of soy sauce.
- Stir in beef broth. Also Add Japanese sweet potato that’s been cut into about 1in cubes. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for an hour, or more if you have the time. Keep partially covered, and stir occasionally.
- Meanwhile, make your finishing drizzle by pulsing a handful of cilantro leaves with a tablespoon or so of toasted sesame oil in a food processor. When you finally pour this on your soup, however, do NOT use all at once. Start with a very small amount, taste, and go from there. Toasted sesame oil has a very strong flavor, that will easily overpower a dish. You really want just a small hint of sesame flavor to add dimension. A hint.
- Be sure to taste periodically through the process. More soy? More sweetness?
- After an hour, your potatoes will be very soft and your beef will be pretty tender. Remember, the longer you simmer, the more tender your meat will be.
- Right before serving, cook udon noodles according to package directions. This usually only takes a few minutes.
- Serve stew over udon and top with a small amount of sesame drizzle.
- Serve with a cold Sapporo, and add more soy sauce or sesame drizzle to taste. Yum! This turned out really, really well! I will definitely be making it again before stew season is over. Maybe I’ll even pick up some real Japanese curry powder while I’m in Japan.