Ochazuke is a firm favourite when we want a simple warming meal, green tea poured over a bowl of rice topped with salmon. However, tonight we wanted something darker, something sweeter and most importantly, something to use the beautiful piece of organic beef we got from our butcher. This is what we came up with; a sweet, sticky, gingery beef tsukudani, rich and powerful with plenty of soy and sake in it. The depth of flavour in the beef would have overpowered the green tea normally used in ochazuke, so we decided to use dashi-infused hojicha instead, and topped the whole dish off with a lightly cured egg yolk to add extra creaminess and provide a more substantial sauce for the beef and rice. Any leftover tsukudani can be chopped up finely and used as a filling for some beef onigiri, or used as a punchy addition to a bento.
- 450g beef rib-eye
- 2 cups Japanese rice, cooked as per the instructions here
- 30g ginger, finely shredded
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 90ml sake
- 90ml soy sauce
- 45ml mirin
- 20g brown sugar
- 1 handful katsuobushi
- 2 spring onions
- 4-6 fresh organic eggs
- 250ml soy sauce
- 60ml mirin
- 2 tablespoons hojicha (a roasted green tea)
- 500ml dashi
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Start by making your cured egg yolks. Mix the 250ml of soy sauce and the 60ml of mirin together in a bowl, break the eggs and separate the yolks, being careful to remove any connecting chalazae and keep the yolks intact. Slide the yolks into the soy mixture, cover with cling film and leave in the refrigerator for 5 hours. Remove the eggs from the fridge an hour before you want to eat them so they can come to room temperature. The longer you leave the eggs in their marinade the stronger and firmer they become, we’ve found five hours to be the optimal time to thicken up the yolk but still leave it runny.
- Slice the beef as thinly as you can and then into small pieces about two inches by one inch, we get pretty good results by partly freezing the beef and using a knife designed for slicing smoked salmon. Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan and add the beef strips, cook over a high heat until all the pieces are browned. Add the shredded ginger, sesame oil, sake, brown sugar, katsuobushi, 90ml soy sauce and 45ml mirin. Mix everything together and bring to a simmer, then continue to cook the beef until the liquid has reduced to just a couple of teaspoons, then take off the heat.
- Meanwhile brew your hojicha in 500ml water and warm your dashi stock in a saucepan. When both are ready, combine them in equal parts and season with a splash of soy sauce to your liking.
- Divide your warm, cooked rice between four to six serving bowls and top each with the beef tsukudani. Sprinkle with sliced spring onions and crown each pile with a lightly cured egg yolk. At the table, immediately before serving, pour the hot tea mixture into each bowl to finish the dish.
Our favourite part of this meal is when you first break into the yolk and it runs down, over the beef and rice and into the tea. Each spoonful can be a different consistency as you vary how much of each component you take, some mouthfuls will be soothing and delicately flavoured, others will be strong and smoky, and a rare few will be creamy and salty when you get a streak of the yolk running through them.
Serves 4-6 people.