Japanese Style Brisket


Japanese style braised brisket

Kosher Japanese spare ribs? Well, perhaps something like that for Seudat Mafseket, the pre-fast meal before the Yom Kippur fast. While it is not traditional to eat such a heavy meal before beginning a fast, Mr. Tess wanted some beef. And I’ve been craving these pork spareribs from Hiroko Shimbo’s The Japanese Kitchen. So I thought, “Why not cook a beef brisket (which is usually fatty-rich like ribs) with the same seasonings!” Some of the Korean beef recipes I’ve posted about previously make my train of thought not so illogical…beef braised with spices and soy sauce.

The ingredients for the marinade and braising liquid are simple and easily available: soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, toban jiang, honey, and rice wine vinegar. This recipe can be served piping hot, room temperature, or cold (especially because the brisket was so lo-fat). The Korean beef soup idea triggered a craving for some Korean noodles. This time I had acorn noodles which are made with pulverized acorns and wheat flour and are similar to Japanese buckwheat soba noodles.

Japanese-Style Braised Spareribs Beef Brisket
Supearibu no Nikomi
Gyūniku no burisuketto

adapted from: The Japanese Kitchen
•250 Recipes in a Traditional Spirit•
by Hiroko Shimbo
page 437
serves 6

Marinate and Brown:

  • 3 ½ pounds beef brisket, cut into thick slices
  • 3 Tablespoon shoyu
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ Tablespoon toban jiang (Japanese chile-bean sauce)
  • 4 Tablespoons honey
  • 2-3 medium onions, diced
  • a sprinkle of salt on the diced onions
  • vegetable oil for browning the onions

Marinate the beef for an hour. Heat a dutch oven, add oil, and over medium heat, begin to sauté the onions. The salt draws out the liquid from the onions as they begin to soften. Adjust heat to low as the liquid evaporates. At this point watch closely so they caramelize and don’t burn. Add the beef fat side down and allow it to brown.

This was the leanest brisket I’ve ever seen—the supermarket packages brisket red-side up, so when I got home the thin layer of fat was a surprise. At this point, I was briefly distracted, until the little bit of fat almost started smoking. Yikes! I grabbed the saké bottle and poured wine to cool it down. Below is what the original recipe called for, but I used a lot more saké. I also added a bit of the marinade (which I hadn’t yet discarded) because saké is sweet and the spice from the toban jiang seemed necessary to balance the flavors.

The Braise:

  • ½ cup saké
  • 4 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup water

Add the liquids, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, covered, over low heat for 30 minutes. An otoshi-buta is a wooden lid made of cypress which floats on simmering liquid keeps the solid food pushed below the broth, and it prevents the liquid from boiling away too quickly.

  • 4 Tablespoons Shoyu
  • 6 Tablespoons komezu (rice vinegar)

Add the above ingredients and cook for 20 to 30 minutes. Turn or baste the meat several times. When it’s tender, let the meat cool in the sauce so you can slice it thinly to serve. Or refrigerate to finish later in the day. If you hold the ribs for later, warm them gently in the sauce.

That’s a lot of meat for only 3 people! It means there were plenty of leftovers. Sandwiches, of course, for lunch are always convenient. But for a second supper, I used thin spaghetti to sop up the remaining broth plus a swig of sesame oil to serve with garden tomatoes and thinly sliced brisket. This is a recipe with virtues enough to recommend itself.

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