OOO, steak! This week is unusual because while I’m not a huge fan of beef, I’ve made (and enjoyed) several beef recipes!
I grew up in a family with four children, and budget was a big word: my parents managed to take care of four children without a lot of money. We had big vegetable gardens where we all worked: tilling, planting, weeding, harvesting, and preserving. My mother canned mountains of tomatoes, jams and jellies, pickles, fruits—peaches, plums, strawberries, blueberries…, and green beans. She froze corn, for which my dad made a tool to cut the kernels from the cob. She froze broccoli and and cauliflower (oh, that horrid smell of cruciferous vegetables being blanched still makes me nauseous!). We stored potatoes and apples and cabbage over the winters.
Back to beef: my mom often made 1 pound of beef feed six people. It was usually ground beef and meatloaf, or spaghetti sauce. If we ate “steak” it was something called “Swiss Steak,” which I remember being slices of inexpensive bottom round, drowned and boiled in tomato sauce until they were fibrous and flavorless. (Well, bottom round tends to be like that!). Or chuck steaks broiled very well done: my mother did not like rare meat—but by the way, chuck roasts/steaks are great in stews or braises.
So I grew up not appreciating beef. And not understanding “steak.” My study of Japanese cooking has shown me that steak (or other fine beef) can be very well appreciated. Forgive me: good things come in small packages. A small fine thing is of more value than a large portion of cheap and showy material. But even so, it is not so simple as that.
Rice with Beef, Burdock, and Porcini Mushrooms
Gyuniku, Gobo, Porucini Gohan
serves four as a side dish, two as a main dish
- 1 1/2 cups Japanese rice about 2 cups liquid (1 7/8 cups)
- 1/3 ounce dried porchine mushrooms (about 1/4 cup packed) soaked in 1 cup boiling water for 15 minutes)
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons shoyu (soy sauce), divided
- 2 Tablespoons sake (rice wine), divided
- 1 Tablespoon mirin (sweet rice wine)
- 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
- 3 ounces gobo (burdock), julienned in 2-inch lengths (about 1 cup), soaked in 1 cup cold water and 1 teaspoon vinegar; or 1 cup julienned carrot
- 6 ounces beef sirloin, cut into thin 2-by-2 1/2-inch strips
- (I used a 12 ounce rib eye with a bone, but cut away the bone; in any case it was more beef than necessary)
- a scant 1/4 theaspoon salt
- 3 Tablespoons minced shiso or parsley
- Fresh-ground black pepper
Rinse the rice and let it drain in a colandar.
Drain the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid, and cut them into thin strips. In a small bowl, combine the mushrooms with 1/2 Tablespoon shoyu, 1 Tablespoon sake, and the mirin. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes.
Add enough water to the mushroom liquid to measure about 1 7/8 cups.
Over a medium high flame, heat the sesame oil in a large skillet. Add the burdock or carrot and beef. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring all the time. Add the remaining 1 Tablespoon sake and 1 Tablespoon shoyu, and the salt. Cook for another minute, stirring. Remove from the heat.
Put the rice and the measured mushroom-water into a heavy-bottomed pot. Put the beef, burdock (or carrot), and mushrooms on top of the rice. Cover with a heavy lid and bring to a boil. As soon as you see steam excaping, turn heat to warm and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, and let it stand, covered for 15 minutes. Add the shiso or parsley and black pepper to the rice and toss with a paddle. Serve immediately.
What a relief to meet the work deadline! I can get back to my real-life again!
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