When Japan opened its doors to the outside world at the advent of the Meiji period in 1868, it also opened its doors to the outside world and its kitchens. As all things Western became the rage, a unique (and lasting) food trend emerged. Known as yoshoku, it comprised Western dishes with a Japanese twist, often served with silverware, linen tablecloths, and napkins.
In fact, this type of food began to be popular even while Japan was still officially closed to the West. A number of restaurants specializing in Western dishes can be traced back to the final days of the Edo period (1603-1867), among them Ryorin-ten in Nagasaki which opened in 1863.
Up to the mid-twentieth century, yoshoku was defined by such dishes as omelettes, breaded beef cutlets, crab croquettes, hayashi (hashed beef) rice, and a few classier dishes such as tongue stew.
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Yoshoku: Western Food, Japanese Style
Today this type of food is still popular, with a number of famous restaurants in Tokyo continuing to serve a distinctive version of Western, often heavily French-influenced cuisine. More recent additions to the repertoire include tonkatsu (pork cutlet) and potato croquettes. Yoshoku is now so firmly planted in modern Japanese culture that it will most likely evoke sighs of nostalgia when served to someone from Japan.
This recipe appeared originally in my original newsletter entitled “Gochiso-sama,” which of course means Thanks for the Meal. A reader of that newsletter who I met years later, informed me that it was this very recipe that clinched his proposal to his now-wife. I love the power of food!
The Importance of Demi-glace Sauce in Yoshoku Cooking
Demi-glace sauce is essential to the preparation of yoshoku dishes. This classic sauce is based on Espagnole sauce mixed with meat stock, then reduced by cooking for a long time to one-half its original volume. It can days to make. Excellent pre-made versions are available. Madeira (a fortified wine from Portugal) is often added and this recipe specifically calls for a dry Madeira.
Espagnole sauce, if you’re not familiar with it, is a basic brown sauce, based on Auguste Escoffier.
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Beef Tongue Stew Recipe
Beef Tongue Stew
- 1-1/2 lbs Beef (Ox) tongue, skinned and cut into chunks
- 2-3 tbsps Vegetable oil for sautéing
- 1 medium onion, peeled and thickly sliced
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 10-1/2 oz. Demi-glace sauce (homemade or store-bought)*
- 6 oz. Tomato paste
- 3/4 cup Dry good-quality red wine
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons dry Madeira
- 1 cup Water
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1/2 Beef bouillon cube, crushed
- 8 shallots, peeled
- 16 snow peas, trimmed
- 8 baby carrots, trimmed and peeled
- 8 baby potatoes, peeled
- Fresh Parsley, minced
- In a medium saucepan,heat the oil and sauté onion and garlic until lightly browned. Add the tongue and continue to sauté until brown. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add all the other ingredients, except for 2 tablespoons of Madeira, and stir well. Cover and turn heat down to low. Simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally, then taste the tongue for desired doneness and continue cooking. The longer this stew simmers,the better it will taste – about three hours is best. Just before serving,reheat, adjust seasonings, and add the remaining Madeira.
- To prepare the vegetables, boil or steam them and season to taste. If desired, just before serving, lightly sauté them in a little butter.
- To serve, arrange separate mounds of vegetables on one side of a deep plate. Pile the stew (sauce to be served separately) on the other side of the plate and top with a little sauce. Sprinkle with minced parsley and serve immediately.
Do you love beef tongue stew?
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