This is one of my most unforgettable dishes. When I was working as a wine importer in Tokyo, I had a special dinner with international winemakers at a small bistro restaurant in Roppongi owned by an acclaimed sommelier. We were served a beautiful beef cheek stew, made extraordinary by a hint of hatcho (very dark) miso. At that time, there weren't many Chefs using Japanese ingredients in French cuisine, and it was a perfect dish. To top it off, it worked superbly with Australian shiraz. I still remember the first mouthful and how amazing it was. ~ Meg & Zenta Tanaka.
3 Tbs olive oil
1 kg beef cheek, fatty membranes trimmed off, cut into 5–7 cm (2–2¾ in) pieces
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 Tbs tomato paste (concentrated purée)
2 Tbs plain (all-purpose) flour
1 litre (34 fl oz/4 cups) red wine
2–3 bay leaves, fresh or dried
2–3 thyme sprigs
2 Tbs hatcho (very dark) miso
2 Tbs thickened (pouring/whipping) cream, to serve
1 Tbs chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, to serve
Steamed vegetables, to serve (optional)*
*This dish is nice eaten with vegetables. We often steam small ones like potatoes, Dutch carrots, onions and turnips.
Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F).
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large cast-iron stockpot over a high heat. Sear the beef cheek on each side for 3–5 minutes, until nicely browned. Put the beef cheek on a plate and loosely cover it with foil to keep warm.
Reduce the heat to medium–high and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Sauté the onion and garlic for 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Add the carrot and celery and sauté for another 5 minutes, until soft.
Return the beef and its juices to the pot and stir well. Season with salt and pepper, then add the tomato paste and stir well. Sprinkle the flour evenly over the beef and stir it in.
Pour the wine into a separate saucepan and bring it to the boil. Boil for 5 minutes to cook off the alcohol.
Pour the wine in with the beef and simmer over a high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid thickens. Add the bay leaves and thyme, and check and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Credits: This is an edited extract from Cibi by Meg & Zenta Tanaka published by Hardie Grant Books RRP $50.00 and is available in stores nationally from 1 April 2018.
Photo Credits: © Mark Roper.