The Japanese understand seasoning better than anyone. People talk about 'umami' as the 5th sense of taste, elevating savoury flavours to a new level. Umami literally translates as 'yummy' and was first discussed in Tokyo in the early 20th century. You'll notice umami flavours in many everyday foods - such as marmite, parmesan cheese, soy sauce, beef, fish and mushrooms. When you combine umami rich ingredients you end up with more than 1+1=2, this is the reason a cheese burger tastes so good or parmesan grated on bolognaise sauce is brilliant.
The Japanese everyday stock is known as Dashi - it's a combination of Kombu Seaweed and bonito flakes (a type of fish). Again, these ingredients combine to give you a flavour that's more than the sum of the parts. The idea of this dish is to braise beef shin in dashi stock, giving that ultimate rich, umami tasting beef... and guess what, it's a triumph.
Before we start, this dish is not going to be a quick midweek supper! The amount of work that's required is not enormous, but you do need to be organised and plan ahead, as various elements take a little time for the magic to happen.
I served this with quick pickled carrots (something pickled is really good, you could use our pickled ginger), some plain cooked rice, chargrilled baby leeks, steamed cabbage and spinach - all drizzled with our Momoya Fried Garlic Chilli Oil. Oh boy, heaven in a bowl.
1. The day before. In a non metallic bowl, combine all the beef marinade ingredients and leave to marinade in the fridge over night.
2. In the morning, soak the kombu seaweed on the cold water for at least 4 hours - I generally do this first thing in the morning and then make the stock in the afternoon.
3. To make the kombu dashi stock, tip the water and seaweed into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Just before the water actually boils, remove the seaweed and tip in the bonito flakes. Simmer for 30 seconds then remove from the heat. Leave to infuse for 30 minutes then drain through a fine sieve with a piece of muslin cloth or simply a paper towel.
4. Heat a pan with a little oil until almost smoking, fry the pieces of beef until nice and brown on all sides. It's best to do this in batches to avoid over crowding your pan. Remove the beef and place in a heavy lidded, cast iron pot. Cover with your Kombu Dashi stock and add in a couple of teaspoons of miso paste.
5. Cook in a moderate oven, about 170 degrees C for about 4 hours, until the beef is tender. You should end up with the most heavenly tender beef alongside amazing rich tasting beef broth.
6. The broth is half the meal so serve with white rice or udon noodles, your choice of vegetables and a good drizzle of our Fried Garlic Chilli Oil.
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