Sunday, February 14, 2010

Braciole a la Japonese

It seems like rolling things up in beef is one of those techniques that spans cultures and continents. Last year I discovered braciole, the Italian beef roll. Now, thanks to Tsuji, I've discovered Japanese beef roll.

Don't get me wrong, there are some differences. Braciole is flank steak wrapped around bread crumbs, cheese, and seasonings. Beef burdock (B.B.) is thinly sliced beef wrapped around marinated burdock root. Braciole is braised; B.B. is grilled or broiled. Braciole is unapologetically Italian with it's tomato sauce, Parmesan cheese, and Italian seasonings; B.B. is unapologetically Japanese with its burdock root, soy and dashi marinade, and subtle flavors.

The preparation of B.B. take some time because it involves a 3 to 4 hour marinade of the burdock and a one hour marinade of roll itself. This is what stopped me from making this last Wednesday.

The cooking is quick. Seven minutes under the broiler, turning once.

The result was delicious. Each bite was filled with the slightly sweet, meaty flavor of the beef , followed by the crunch of the interior burdock root. As I'm writing this, I'm starting to salivate at the thought of the roll. I could have kept eating this dish all night.

Tsuji mentions a couple of variation on this dish, replacing the burdock with asparagus or long onion.

My biggest challenge with this recipe was Julienning the burdock roots. Burdock is like a giant carrot that tastes like jicama or a cross between carrots and celery. It is about two feet long, round and pretty rooty looking. My knife skills are ok, but cutting the roots into long thin strips was a challenge. I tried using my mandolin, but that was a disaster. In the end, the knife did the trick.

Would I do this recipe again? Absolutely. I might try it with asparagus, but the burdock held up pretty well and the contrast of textures really helped the dish.

Oh yeah, I have more to say about sansho powder seasoning, but that's a different post.

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