When we have dinner guests, this Beer Beef Stew with Bacon and Shimeji is often on the menu. I didn’t think twice about including it in this month of recipes until my husband pointed out that he didn’t know it was Japanese. What makes a recipe Japanese? The source? The technique? The ingredients? The cook?
The recipe comes from one of my mom’s very old, boro boro Japanese cooking magazines. Knowing the recipe’s source and the fact that we always ate it over rice made it unquestioningly Japanese to me. But there aren’t any quintessentially Japanese ingredients, except for the shimeji.
Still, I don’t hesitate to include it here. This stew, despite it’s lack of overt Japanese influence, is too good not to share.
Beer Beef Stew with Bacon and Shimeji
Makes 4 servings
Pearl onions are great in this dish, if you can get them. I had to substitute with shallots, which was still good, but the pearl onions make it a bit special, like little gems. Salting this dish is particularly important. When the stew is simmering, be sure to taste along the way and adjust accordingly. My mom would serve this over rice but these days I’ve made this with mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach on the side. As you would imagine, it tastes even better the second day.
2 Tbsp butter, divided
2 lbs (1kg) beef stew meat
3.5 oz (100g) bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
3 oz (80g) pearl onions, peeled (I used 2 large shallots cut into quarter wedges)
3.5 oz (100g) shimeji, trimmed and separated into small sections
1/2 Tbsp mustard
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 bay leaf
1/2 slice bread, torn into small pieces
1 to 2 cans beer
1 beef bouillon cube, dissolved in scant 1 cup (200ml) hot water
Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a large pan and cook beef over high heat. Be sure not to overcrowd the pan. Do this in batches, if needed. Quickly brown all sides and transfer to a large pot. Season with salt and pepper.
In the same pan, brown the bacon, then add to the pot with the beef.
Again, in the same pan, lower the heat to medium-low and add the chopped onions. Cook slowly, scraping the bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until caramelized and golden brown. Add the brown sugar, mustard, and vinegar. Mix well. Add half a can of beer and bring to a boil. Then, pour the onions into the pot with the beef. If little brown bits remain in the pan, add more beer and scrape, then pour into the pot.
Add the remaining beer and bouillon to the pot and turn the heat to low. Add the garlic, a couple pinches salt, pepper, bay leaf, and bread. Cover and gently simmer for 1 hour.
When the hour is almost up, heat a new pan and melt 1/2 Tbsp butter. Add the carrots and cook until they turn bright orange. Add to the simmering pot and cook for 15 mins.
Melt another 1/2 Tbsp butter over medium heat and cook the pearl onions. Add to the pot and simmer for 30 mins.
Lastly add the shimeji to the pot and simmer for an additional 10 mins.
Taste and add more salt, if needed. If stew becomes dry, add more beer.