I love quick and easy recipes, but sometimes I feel the need to cook something more elaborate. An occasion to test my cooking skills or to celebrate a special ingredient. This time it is a beautiful cut of game and somehow it remembers me of Japan and I decide to combine an European style stew with Japanese ramen style toppings. A great idea, as it turns out!
After a long day of hiking through steaming hot Japanese hills, the night is blissfully cool. The hotel we stay in for the night is modern, boring, and best described as “functional”. Well, not very functional for me, as the bathroom is painfully small and I have to knee down to brush my teeth. Anyways, at that night we go out and eat at a family style restaurant, which is a change of pace, as we usually eat “at home” at the traditional ryokan we often stay.
And at that restaurant I get to eat one of the best game dishes ever. A thick, soupy wild boar stew with a raw egg yolk on top, just for decadence, and chunky buckwheat noodles to go with it. This delicious dish was my inspiration for this recipe. I didn’t attempt to recreate it, I just wanted to capture the idea and I am really pleased with the result.
Before you cook this recipe, make sure to read it first. There are quite a lot of components and some of them need quite a lot of time to prepare. You can also split the recipe up and prepare the stew in advance so spread out the different steps even more. Also, reheated stews are better anyways.
for the stew:
- 2kg venison or deer stewing meat like shoulder
- 500g mixed root vegetables and leeks (or onions)
- 2tbsp flour
- 1tbsp honey
- 1tbsp miso
- 1 thumb sized piece ginger
- about 1l stock (beef or lamb work best)
- pepper and allspice
for the eggs:
- 6 free range eggs
- soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mirin
for sides and garnish:
- 1 large butternut squash
- 1 bunch of spring onions
- 1 can of corn
- 200g shiitake mushrooms
- 200g ready to eat chestnuts
- 1 sheet nori (maki algae)
- Prepare the pickled eggs on the day before if you have the time. If not, prepare them first to give them enough time to suck up the flavours. Cook the eggs for 5:30 to 6 minutes in boiling, salted water. Carefully strain and rinse under cold water, or even better cool down in an ice bath to prevent the yolks from cooking too much. Let them rest a little, this makes them easier to peel.
- Peel them and place them in a container or zip lock bag that fits them tightly. Add a mixture of soy, Worcestershire sauce and mirin to your taste. I think there isn’t much you can do wrong, just don’t overdo the Worcestershire sauce and you are fine. Seal tightly and place in the fridge until you use them. Use them up within three days.
- Prepare the stew: preheat the oven to 160°C. Cut the meat into little cubes and fry them in your prefered cooking fat, in batches to prevent overcrowding, in a Dutch oven or large pan until golden all around.
- Meanwhile prepare your root veggies and finely slice them. Wash the leeks and also slice them finely. Finely slice the ginger (I buy organic quality so I don’t have to peel it).
- Remove the meat from the pan and slowly fry the veggies and ginger until they have a nice colour. Crush some pepper and allspice and season the veggies. Add a little salt, but not too much as we will use miso later, which is quite salty.
- Add the honey and let caramelise a little. Add the flour and stir it in thoroughly. Add the stock, stir in the miso, cover tightly and slowly cook in the oven for about two hours or until completely tender.
- While the stew is cooking, prepare the toppings: half the larger shiitake mushrooms and fry them with a little fat in a small pan. Add the chestnuts when the mushrooms are done and glaze with a little mirin and soy sauce. Let the liquids cook until almost completely evaporated. Remove from the heat and reheat before serving.
- Cut the pumpkin into thin wadges, remove the pips, toss in a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven at 220°C for about 35 minutes.
- Shortly before dishing everything up, finely slice the spring onions. Assemble the other topping: get your corn and prepare nice little sheets of nori. Take out the eggs of the fridge so they aren’t too cold.
- Take out the stew and put your nicest bowls into the oven (turn it off). Preheated bowls are just better suited for a special dish like this. Taste the stew, season to perfection and plate everything up. Make sure you dont’t forget something, there are many components.
I didn’t calculate macros for this dish, as I feel this is a recipe for special occasions and it is okay to relax a little and enjoy life from time to time. Anyways, calories won’t be too high as long as you don’t overdo the cooking fats, and venison is extremely lean. Just hit the gym and enjoy this special dish with friends and family!
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