Pat Whelan (@pat_whelan) of James Whelan Butchers set me a challenge on Twitter awhile ago – to come up with a Shananigans Recipe that uses his wonderful wagyu striploin steaks. Now bear in mind what I said when I started this blog. I’m not a trained cook. I can follow a recipe with very specific instructions but creating a recipe? Well I’ve only started that very recently as I grow in confidence to vary the suggestions I get from Shan and others. And as for wagyu beef – it’s like giving a pure gold to a jeweller who has only ever worked with scrap metal.
But one third of the Shananigans crew – my darling daughter @ClaireB_Oz – is home from Sydney for 5 days and wants to taste her mammy’s cooking (“remember when you used to bake us cookies” she is wont to say) and it was too good an opportunity to miss to try and produce something special for her.
Thus began a weekend of somewhat frantic on-line and twitter research – I mean what’s all this fuss about wagyu anyway? I couldn’t even spell it last Friday! – and an increasing sense of panic, as I realised how special it is. I felt that I had bitten off more than I can chew (boom, boom) – the foie gras of beef and I’m trying to give it a Chinese makeover without ever having cooked it as a simple steak.
Twitter friends far and wide were roped in for suggestions, the internet was trawled to produce much conflicting advice and I finally settled on a Sichuan take on a Shabu Shabu style hotpot, for no other reason than I loved the name which is onomatopoeic for the “swish swish” of the meat gently cooked in the hotpot broth.
Well I almost settled, because no sooner had I got a recipe for the broth from Twitter friend and Good Food Ireland member, Audrea of Tastefully Yours (@ArtisanChutney) and spent nearly a day tracking down a table top hotpot from Table Top Cookware in the UK, (from where the lovely Sophie phoned me on a Sunday morning to say that yes, of course, they could fast deliver it to Ireland), when the other third of Shananigans – Shane, Shan and their foodie friend Carl Hayward in Beijing informed me that their consensus was that hotpot was not a good idea…
Carl had a different suggestion – a way of cooking wagyu he learned when he attended a cooking class with, and subsequently interviewed, a Japanese chef, Naoki Okumura, who is the executive chef at the Aman resort by the Summer Palace in Beijing, Naoki practices a fusion style of cooking he calls French Kaiseiki, an approach that combines French techniques with Japanese artistry.
Interestingly enough another Twitter friend @paulshoebox had recommended I visit that restaurant while in Beijing. So I will save some of the wagyu steaks and use them in Carl’s recipe.
Meanwhile I am psychologically committed to the hotpot, if for no other reason than the effort I’ve put into tracking one down. Besides I already have one vital ingredient thanks to Twitter friend @BumblesofRice – muslin squares to strain @ArtisanChutney stock. I’d never have thought of the baby isle in Tesco!
The stock is simmering away for tomorrow. I only have to stay up until 1 am to mind it.
Tastefully Yours Sichuan Stock Base (courtesy of @artisanchutney)
- About I kg of short beef ribs/Jacobs’s ladder (available from James Whelan Butchers)
- 2 red onions peeled and halved
- 2 sticks celery
- 1 large carrot, unpeeled
- A handful of fresh thyme
- 10 – 15 sichuan peppercorns
- About 100 ml of shaoxing rice wine
- 1 tbs honey
- 1/2 tsp of light soy sauce
- Take off the outer layer of fat on the beef because fat boiling in a stock will emulsify and lead to a cloudy texture and an unpleasant taste.
- Brown off the ribs in a little vegetable oiI.
- Add the onion, celery,carrot, thyme, Sichuan pepper corns, shaoxing wine. honey and soy sauce.
- Mix together and continue to brown all the ingredients.
- Fill the pot with just enough cold water to cover all the ingredients – about 3 litres.
- Give it a vigorous stir and bring to a gentle boil.
- Reduce heat, loosely cover with a lid and simmer for 5-6 hours.
- Don’t be tempted to stir the stock as this will only cloud it.
- Skim the fat off every hour.
- Once cooked strain it through muslin – I found the easiest way to do this was to use a sieve first to discard all the bones and vegetables and then to re-sieve the stock through the muslin.
- Refrigerate it overnight and remove the layer of fat that forms. You’ll be left with a gelatinous stock.
@ArtisanChutney says: “This is your base for noodle soup or sauces. This is just a building block so have fun with it. Make it your own. Cooking is all about experimenting.” I’m trying Audrea, I’m trying,,,