Stewed Beef Umami

I experiment with making stewed beef and it isn’t as easy as you think. Scouring the internet there are lots of ideas and unfortunately most are poor. The main point about stew and Japanese beef stew is all about one thing and one thing only, and that is umami.

So, how do we extract umami and that’s the question. So, you need the right tools and tool number one is konbu. I adore more than anything the licorice smells of konbu but we all know that the best konbu is kept exclusively for the best Japanese chefs and whatever is exported is second tier quality.

And the idea of using konbu and some small amount of katsuobushi is always nice, but does the fermented konbu shavings add or deflect taste when you are cooking a land animal? I think it is all a matter of how you enhance flavour, and how to find the complementarity between land and sea.

So back to the stove; I have tried using all kinds of beef and stew is a little like pepper steak, so when you have sauces that smother the beef, it is not a major issue to step down a step or two in your beef choices. However, I am not the type to skimp, or cut corners and a little magic in Japanese beef is not the cut as much as it is the cooking technique.

I take the beef and slow cook it, and the secret is in the shoyu, and to get the right balance between all ingredients and construct a hierarchy of flavour is what makes it a success or a failure.

The shoyu should be balanced by sugars and those are the background base flavours, so use a Japanese rock sugar white named zarame, and it is the perfect raw material. Then you work the beef slowly and the secret is using some added flavour enhancers such as chicken stock, which I make fresh. That is a pain in the as yet it is required to get it right.

The chicken stock is the base enhancer with the konbu and shoyu and the zarame: if you concentrate on using these tools you ca obtain the right taste you prefer. Don’t forget to have a base and in my case I used chickpeas and mushrooms – the granmd finale is some spice for thiose who enjoy jkapanese spices this is togarashi.