Category Archives: Beef

Meat Patties with Dill

kotlety_zkopDill has been growing like crazy on my balcony, so use it now several times a week. Luckily, it’s one of my favourite herbs, so I cannot complain. Patties were probably among the most frequent dishes my mum cooked. I don’t think she has ever made them with dill, but she would sprinkle dill on top of most dishes (a typical culinary gesture in Poland), especially in spring and summer. This gave me the idea to add the dill to the meat mixture (though of course I didn’t skip the sprinkling final touch either!). The result makes them taste lighter, more refreshing, more summery… and actually quite original in the world of meat patties. Serve them with a yogurt-based sauce for a perfect hot weather meal.

Throughout the years I have slightly changed even the basic meat patties making procedure. First of all, I don’t add raw onion, like my mum did, but stir-fried one (I have found this improvement at Nami’s Just One Cookbook; thank you so much, Nami!!!). Secondly, I make smaller patties (my mum’s have a size of my hand), which cook quicker and are juicier without excessively fatty meat. Last, but not least, I find brushing the patties juste before serving with a mixture of soy sauce and sake, a fantastic flavours enhancer, whatever the seasoning and whatever side dishes I have.

TIPS: These patties taste great with tzatziki, Indian raita or similar yogurt-based sauces/dips.

Here are some other dill use ideas:

Bulgarian Dill Salad (Dry Tarator)

Bulgarian Dill Salad (Dry Tarator)

Pickled Dill Cucumber

Pickled Dill Cucumber

Moomins' Pickled Cucumber Salad

Moomins’ Pickled Cucumber Salad

Polish Brined Cucumber Soup

Polish Brined Cucumber Soup

Preparation: about 40 min – 1 hour

Ingredients (serves 3 as a main course, if served with some carbs, such as potatoes):

500 g ground beef+pork or pork or beef+pork+veal (beef alone becomes too tough)

1 egg

aprrox. 5 heaped tablespoons breadcrumbs (you can use Japanese panko) or 1 slice of toast bread soaked in milk or water and then well squeezed

oil to pan fry

1 medium onion or 3 medium shallots

salt, pepper

1 big handful finely chopped dill (discard only the thick…) + some for decoration

(soy sauce+sake, mixed, to brush over the patties before serving)

In a big bowl combine the meat, the salt, the pepper, the dill, the raw egg and the breadcrumbs.

(If you think the mixture is not thick enough to form patties, add more bread crumbs or soak a small bit of bread (don’t put too much bread/crumbs! it might change the taste and also make them tough).)

Put aside.

In the meantime chop the onion finely and stir-fry until golden.

Add to the meat mixture.

If you have time, you can leave the meat, covered, in the fridge for several hours. This will improve the flavours. However, it’s not necessary and you can proceed directly with frying.

Heat some oil in a pan. Form the patties with wet hands and pan-fry at medium heat, covered, until they are well cooked (because of the pork). It usually takes about 15 minutes for each batch. Covering the pan accelerates the process.

Brush the patties with soy sauce just before serving.

Serve sprinkled with dill and preferably with a yogurt-based sauce.

 

 

 

Udon and Spring Onion Burger

udonburgerpMost of you probably regularly eat noodles and ground meat (not necessarily together), but would you ever think of combining them in a burger patty? I certainly wouldn’t and was sincerely surprised that such a crazy idea can yield an amazingly luscious burger. A huge amount of green onions – though less surprising – might also contribute to the final taste results, but in my opinion, the presence of chopped udon noodles is what makes the difference.

For those who have never heard of udon, it’s thick wheat flour variety of Japanese noodles, usually eaten in light soups. I am particularly fond of their chewy, slightly bouncy texture and always have a package in stock, but I would have never even dreamt of including them into a burger. Actually, I stumbled upon this recipe while looking for new ideas to use the abundance of Japanese green onions growing on my balcony. My long search led me as far as Kawaga prefecture’s official website and their filmed recipes.

Kagawa is apparenty famous for its udon (sanuki udon, to be precise) and its inhabitants are said to be addicted to these noodles (if you saw the film “Udon”, you know what I mean…). I have no doubts that only big passion for udon could have led to the creation of such an unusual idea. Ms Toshiko Tsukuda, from Kagawa prefecture’s research council group, presented this recipe (click here), aimed at using local green onion, under the name of (roughly translated, please correct me, if I’m wrong) “grilled green onion and udon surprise” (びっくりネギ焼きうどん). I was completely blown away by the idea of chopped udon in burger patties (not to mention being able to use a huge bunch of my green onions), so I bought the beef and prepared them as soon as possible. The burgers were incredibly juicy, surprisingly light and I particularly appreciated a slightly chewy typical udon “touch”.

As it often happens, I have modified this recipe already at the first cooking session. I changed the ingredients’ ratio (mainly increasing the beef amount), added crushed garlic clove and ground cumin to spice up the beef a bit and I also decided to glaze the burgers with teriyaki sauce (or rather my own, less sweet version of it). For the original recipe, check Kagawa Prefecture’s official website (unfortunately I haven’t found an English version, the video is in Japanese only, I think). (UPDATE: Thanks to Hiroyuki, I have found out this recipe is almost identical to Udon Gyoza, the specialty of Takatsuki).

TIPS: The patties are quite delicate, but surprisingly, they keep well the shape, if you form a ball in your hand, roll it a bit to make sure the ingredients “stick” and then slightly flatten it. Of course they should be turned very carefully.

If you use the “fresh” precooked udon (not the dried noodles), you don’t need to warm it or boil before chopping and including into the patty. Just unpack it and chop.

My teriyaki glaze is only slightly sweet (compared to the standard teriyaki glaze), so add more mirin and/or sugar if you want it typically sweet.

You can use any green onions or chives you have. I find Japanese green onions more delicate than Western ones.

Preparation: about 30 – 40 minutes

Ingredients (serves 3):

200g (about 7 oz) cooked udon or “fresh”, precooked udon: you don’t need to cook this one here; just take it out of the package and chop it

200 g (about 7 oz) ground beef

a big bunch of chopped spring onion or chives (the volume equal to udon’s volume)

salt, pepper (I have added 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper)

ground cumin (I have added 1/2 teaspoon)

1 crushed garlic clove

1 egg

oil

Teriyaki glaze:

6 tablespoons soy sauce

3 tablespoons mirin (sweet cooking sake)

Chop the udon as finely as possible (but don’t make a paste out of it!).

In a bowl combine the chopped udon, the spring onion/chives, the beef, the egg, salt, pepper, cumin and garlic.

Mix well with your hand or with a fork.

Put aside for ten minutes.

Heat the oil in a pan or heat a grill.

Form patties (beware: they are delicate and cannot be as flat as beef-only patties).

Fry or grill the burgers as much as you prefer (even completely cooked inside they were still juicy though). I fry them, putting a lid over the pan, so that the upper part is slightly cooked before I flip them (this way they are well cooked inside – I don’t like rare burgers – but not dry). Of course if you want them rare inside, don’t cover the pan.

In the meantime warm the teriyaki glaze in a small pan and make it boil until it thickens (watch the pan because it burns easily).

Before serving, brush the sauce over each burger.

Serve immediately.

Korean Rice Rolls (Gimbap/Kimbap 김밥)

kor_makiGiven my growing interest and experience in Korean cooking, the gimbap – making adventure was inevitable. Especially since last year, when I saw beautiful colourful rice rolls in Tokyo’s Korean district. Unfortunately, I was no longer hungry (easy to understand after a BBQ dinner…) and didn’t have time to go back there before my return to Europe. Finally, after long months, I made my first attempt, which was much more satisfactory in terms of taste than in its aesthetic results. I hope you will believe me that clumsy-looking rice rolls can also make a fully enjoyable meal.

For those who have never had much more famous Japanese rice rolls (maki sushi), their basic ingredients are seaweed sheets (nori) and vinegared rice. The filling varies, but it usually includes one or more of such ingredients as fish, seafood, cucumber, pickled radish or avocado. For me the main difference between maki sushi and Korean gimbap/kimbap is the rice seasoning : here vinegar is also added to the rice (at least in my both cookery books), but a tiny amount only and the sesame oil’s presence dominates the final taste. The gimbap filling is usually richer and very colourful. It often contains beef, pickled radish, sliced omelette, cooked spinach and, for example, carrot.The sesame-scented rice is so delicious, you want to finish it on its own while mixing… so beware! (I kept on “tasting” it throughout the whole rolls preparation process.)

If I had to choose between Japanese and Korean rolls, I must say I prefer the vinegared maki sushi ,but mainly because I associate rice rolls with a very light, refreshing meal and vinegared rice gives more easily this impression. Gimbap is heartier and maybe less sophisticated… but there is something more casual, joyful and playful about Korean rolls… so I’m sure I will be making them from time to time. (And the taste of rice mixed with sesame oil was a revelation). Up to you to choose which ones you prefer!

I have combined here two slightly different recipes from The Food and Cooking of Korea by Young Jin Song and Growing Up in a Korean Kitchen by Hi Soo Shin Hepinstall, both fantastic, though completely different cookbooks, the former being rather for beginners and the latter one of the biggest jewels in my kitchen library. Apart from using two sources, I have modified the filling substantially, namely adding raw cucumber and leek and skipping some ingredients (I did leave however the “flagship” beef and omelette), so can only I hope I still have the right to call these rolls “gimbap” in spite of all the changes… As in the case of maki sushi, I have used here a lower rice vs filling ratio than in the original recipe (see the TIPS below).

TIPS: Since I am able to devour lots of rice rolls (maki sushi or gimbap), I reduce the rice amount in order to make them lighter and low-calorie. As you see on the photo above, the filling takes here more space than the rice. If you prefer a standard, not lightened version, increase the rice amount (500 g or about 17,5 oz instead of 300 g or about 10,5 oz).

When you buy seaweed (nori) sheets, pay attention to their transparency and colour. I was told in Japan that darker and less transparent nori means better quality (of course there are more sophisticated criteria to judge the quality once the nori is dark and opaque enough to be considered good quality, but I found the above tip a good way to discard low-quality products).

Hi Soo Shin Hepinstall, the author of Growing Up in a Korean Kitchen, advises serving gimbap with vinegared soy sauce (check her book for the recipe) and hot yellow mustard. I have served them with soy sauce mixed with sesame oil and vinegar only. 

Special equipment:

rice cooker (unless you know how to cook the rice in a “normal” pan)

maki rolling mat 

a brush

Preparation: 20 minutes (+ 1 hour for rice rinsing, cooking, seasoning and cooling)

Ingredients (serves 4 as the main course):

5 nori seaweed sheets

300g (about 10,5 oz) short grain (Japanese or Korean) rice (or 500g/about 17,5 oz if you prefer “standard”  rolls)

Rice mixture:

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 flat teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon rice wine (I have used sake)

1 long cucumber, cut into strips

(1 long thin leek)

2 eggs

1 big carrot, cut into strips (in the recipe it’s stir-fried, but I preferred to use it raw)

oil (for the omelette frying)

100 g ground beef ; the recipe calls either for finely chopped beef or for thin beef strips (at Hi Soo Shin Hepinstall’s), so you can chop it or cut into thin strips too

Beef marinade:

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 crushed or grated garlic cloves

(chilli flakes)

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

sesame oil

a small bowl of water 

Steam the rice.

In the meantime mix the marinade with the beef and put aside for ten minutes.

Beat the eggs in a bowl, season with salt and fry a flat omelette.
Cut the omelette into thin strips and put them aside.

Put the hot rice into a bowl and add the rice mixture ingredients. Stir well and leave to cool down.

When the rice has cooled down to the room temperature (it can’t be completely cold, otherwise it won’t be sticky enough), put a nori sheet vertically on the rolling mat, shiny side down.

Fry the beef and let it cool down.

With fingers dipped in a bowl of water spread 1/5th of the rice evenly, leaving a 1 cm gap on the top, far edge.

Arrange the filling ingredients on the rice, in a horizontal line, close to the bottom edge.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and with sesame oil.

Roll the gimbap starting from the bottom edge, gently pressing after each turn.

Brush with water the upper edge before doing the last turn (it will help to seal the roll).

Press gently the roll and put it aside.

In order to obtain more or less similarly sized pieces, cut the roll first in two parts, then put them in a row and cut them in two parts, etc.

(It is easier to cut the rolls with a moist knife blade.)

Arrange them on a plate and serve.

 

 

Filipino “Torta” – Inspired Omelette with Ground Meat

fil_omeletteppSeveral years ago, on Wok with Ray, I saw a dish called “torta”. Ground meat in an omelette seemed both an ingenious and appetising idea, so I planned to prepare torta and still wonder why it took me so long… Last weekend, after a previous night’s korokke dinner, I was left with some fried ground beef. When I started to wonder how to use it, I had an instant flash of Ray’s beautiful torta. My Sunday lunch was ready in ten minutes and it was one of the best leftover dishes I have ever had in my life.

First of all, I must warn you I have substantially modified the recipe, for example omitting the potatoes and coriander. Moreover, instead of making smaller portions like Ray’s, I made one bigger omelette which filled the whole surface of my small pan. Then, I added my own touches just before serving: I sprinkled the omelette with a big amount of chives, toasted sesame seeds and, finally, I splashed some of my homemade ketchup and seasoned it with chilli oil. Even though the outcome of my transformed version was excellent, it is not the genuine torta, so check Ray’s blog to see the real recipe and to discover all the fascinating Filipino dishes and fantastic photographs I have been admiring for years on Wok with RayThank you so much, Ray, for this fantastic recipe! (UPDATE: And thank you so much for correcting my error!)

TIPS: Ray used here turkey meat and I used beef. I’m sure any minced meat would be ok.

Preparation: about 10 minutes

Ingredients (serves one):

1 tablespoon oil

2 eggs

ground, fried and seasoned meat (about 100 g when raw)

chives or green onion

chilli oil

toasted sesame seeds

(salt/pepper)

(ketchup, any other tomato-based sauce)

With a fork beat the eggs slightly in a bowl.

Add the cold and fried ground meat.

Season with salt and pepper, if needed (it depends on how well the meat has been seasoned).

Heat the oil in a small frying pan.

Pour the omelette into the pan and fry it on both sides on low heat (it’s very easy to burn).

I always cover the pan with a lid when making an omelette and I advise it here too. This way the upper part will also cook a bit before you turn the omelette.

Finally, when the omelette is set well enough to be turned, turn it and fry on the second side for 30 seconds.

Serve with chives, a sauce of your choice and toasted sesame seeds. (If you like chilli oil, I strongly advise it; it was perfect with this omelette).

Bigos (Polish Sauerkraut and Meat Stew / Hunter’s Stew)

bigos_ppThis humble looking stew is in my opinion the most magical Polish dish and one of the most amazing dishes in the world. Simmered for long hours, in excellent company of herbs, spices and meats, sauerkraut is here in its full glory, creating surprising complex flavours, with a definite presence of umami. Even though it may not look or sound attractive, I don’t know anyone who would dislike good homemade bigos. I insist on “good” and “homemade” because even though it’s not difficult, bigos doesn’t stand shortcuts, cheating or industrial ready-to-reheat ersatz. It requires time, patience, care and love, easily recognisable through the final taste.

Bigos (pron. bee-goss) doesn’t mean “hunter’s stew”. It was called this way in English because it used to be served during hunts and at the time contain game (nowadays extremely rare), but the etymology of the Polish word is not certain. Bigos has a long ingredients list, takes several days to cook and tastes different in every house. Depending on the meat one chooses, bigos can be very rich and difficult to digest or – the way I prefer it – filling but low-calorie and healthy. Recipes are often meticulously respected and proudly kept secret because people develop their own methods throughout the years, regularly improving them (I do it too of course!). In theory bigos is an good way to use up Christmas leftovers (meats, cold cuts, sausages…), but it is the best when carefully planned, without accidental ingredients. Bigos tastes better reheated and even defrosted, so even though it’s time consuming, a big batch can be made well in advance and then treated as an emergency meal.

The obligatory ingredients (in my opinion, of course, because, as I said, everyone has a different recipe and I suppose different obligatory items) are: sauerkraut, fresh white cabbage to balance the sauerkraut’s acidity, onions, dried aromatic mushrooms (I mean not shiitake, cloud ear mushrooms or morels; penny buns (porcini/ceps) or other mushrooms from boletus genus are perfect here), smoked meat, smoked sausage, prunes and raw meat (if you can get game, it makes an exceptional bigos, extremely rare nowadays). Smoked cold meats are necessary to obtain a wonderful smokey aroma, typical of bigos. Marjoram is the typical Polish herb, so don’t skip it! The remaining ingredients depend on your preferences, but if you use fresh mushrooms instead of dried ones or skip smoked meat/sausage, you are making sauerkraut with mushrooms, not bigos.

TIPS: People rarely use sauerkraut alone and tame its acidity by fresh white cabbage; the ratio of both depends on the cook’s preferences and on the sauerkraut’s acidity. Sauerkraut is sold in plastic bags, plastic containers, jars or loose, from a bigger container. It is also popular for example in Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Switzerland and France, but its acidity varies. I would strongly advise against French sauerkraut which from my repeated experience is not sour and rather bland. Polish, Russian, Ukrainian and German sauerkrauts are quite similar in taste, in level of acidity and perfect for this dish. In short, bigos can vary from very sour to sweet, depending on how much fresh cabbage is added.

Remember to buy raw sauerkraut (in certain countries it’s sometimes sold precooked).

The seasoning and even meat or cabbage amounts can be adjusted during the cooking process (for example on the second day).

The orange specks you see at the photograph are grated carrots (sauerkraut, at least in Poland, is often fermented with carrots).

If the third day you realise the sauerkraut is too acid, you can always add more sliced and precooked fresh white cabbage and simmer several more hours. You can also add more prunes to make it sweeter.

Preparation: three days (several hours of simmering each day)

Ingredients (serves six):

1 kg (about 2 lbs) sauerkraut, drained (don’t throw the brine: keep it to adjust the taste -see below – or simply drink it: it’s delicious!)

1 medium white cabbage, thinly sliced (you might need to buy a second cabbage the following day if the result proves too acid for you; you will know better how much raw cabbage to add next time)

2 medium onions, sliced

1 chicken leg, skinned + 200 g/about 7 oz raw pork cut into chunks (tenderloin is my favourite here) or 2 chicken legs or any raw meats of your choice, except for lamb, mutton and goat

200 g/about 7 oz smoked sausage or smoked pork cold cuts, or a mixture of both, cut into pieces

a handful of dried aromatic mushrooms

a handful of prunes, chopped

20 juniper corns, crushed or ground

1/2 l (about 2 cups) light chicken stock or water

salt, pepper

chilli in powder

250 ml (about 1 cup) red wine

3 garlic cloves, crushed

4 flat tablespoons dried marjoram

soy sauce or maggi sauce

1 bay leaf

Place dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover with boiling water.
When the water cools (don’t throw it away! it retains a very precious mushroom aroma!), cut the mushrooms up and place both – the soaking water and mushrooms – in a big pan.

Taste the sauerkraut and if it’s very acid, drain it, but keep the brine in the fridge (just in case you need to make your bigos more sour, otherwise, if you don’t use it after one day, you can also drink it: it’s delicious and healthy).

Slice the onion, chop the garlic and place them in a big pan (the one where you have already placed soaked mushrooms + soaking water). Add the stock (or water), the sauerkraut, the spices, the meats, the sausage and/or the cold cuts.

If you are doing it for the first time, add at the beginning only 1/3 of the fresh sliced cabbage.

Give the whole bigos mixture a delicate stir and simmer, covered – avoiding further stirring – for three hours, at very low heat.

After two hours add some red wine and give the bigos a delicate stir.

Taste the bigos and if it’s too sour, cook some more of the sliced fresh cabbage separately in a pan (about 10 minutes) and combine with the bigos (without the water). The amount you add depends on how sour the bigos is and how sour you want the final result to be. You can always repeat this quick cooking and adding process (the taste changes also depending on the prunes’ sweetness).

If the bigos is too sweet, add some sauerkraut brine you put aside at the beginning.

Let the bigos cool down and refrigerate.

Simmer the following day at least three hours, adding some water (1/2 l / about 2 cups ) at the beginning so that it doesn’t burn).

The second day, after simmering, remove the chicken leg bones and adjust the taste (add salt, pepper, chilli, more brine if it’s not sour enough or more cooked fresh cabbage if it’s too sour).

Simmer once more at least three hours the third day.

Bigos can be refrigerated for about a week or frozen, in individual portions.
It is excellent reheated and also defrosted.

Make sure you don’t burn it when reheating! (Add some water every time).

Serve hot with bread.