Beef and burdock are a perfect combination. Cooked in sweet soy sauce with a lot of ginger, Braised Beef & Burdock with Ginger is a great side dish that goes so well with rice.
The dishes that are cooked in a strong sweet soy sauce flavour with a lot of ginger are called ‘shigureni’ (時雨煮). It is a generic name and dishes do not have to be made of beef and burdock, although beef shigureni appears to be by far the most popular shigureni dish.
‘Shigure’ (時雨) is a type of rain that comes and goes momentarily between autumn and winter in Japan. ‘Ni’ (煮) is braise.
There are a few theories about how the dish came to have this name. One says that the various flavours of the dish pass over your taste buds momentarily just like the rain, shigure. The other says that the first shigureni was made with clam and the prime seasons for clam in Japan is when shigure rain occurs.
There are two different flavourings for Braised Beef & Burdock with Ginger (Shigureni) – strong flavour as ‘tsukudani’ (佃煮) and milder flavour as a side dish.
Braised Beef & Burdock with Ginger as Tsukudani
Tsukudani is one of the typical Japanese preserved foods. It is made by chopping seafood, meat, seaweed or vegetables into small pieces and cooking in a sweet soy sauce for a long time until the liquid evaporates almost completely.
The name tsukudani came from the place called Tsukudajima (an old island in Chuo ward in Tokyo near Tsukishima) where it was first made. Nowadays, tsukudani is made all over Japan but Shōdoshima Island located in the Seto Inland Sea is most famous for tsukudani because Shōdoshima is famous for soy sauce, which is the key ingredient to make tsukudani.
Since tsukudani is a preserved food, it tends to have a strong salty & sweet flavour. Tsukudani is almost like a condiment. You consume a large amount of rice with a very small amount of tsukudani.
Braised Beef & Burdock with Gingr as a Side Dish
Instead of making the flavouring very strong, you can make shigureni with a milder flavour so that you can eat a lot of it as a side dish (or even a main) like today’s recipe.
It uses the same ingredients and the same cooking method but the quantity of flavouring ingredients is slightly less than when making tsukudani.
The flavouring does not include dashi stock as it relies on the umami from the beef. It is just a simple mixture of soy sauce, sake, mirin and sugar with some water.
Sasagaki Cut Burdock (Shaved Burdock)
When making beef and burdock shigureni, the common way to prepare burdock root is to shave it thinly. This method is called ‘sasagaki’ cut as each piece looks like a bamboo (‘sasa’, 笹) leaf.
Make several incisions around the burdock root lengthwise. Hold the burdock in your left hand (for right hander), touching the tip of the burdock to the cutting board. Hold a knife in your right hand facing the blade away from you. Then shave the root using the tip part of the knife in the way you sharpen the wooden part of a pencil with a knife. As you shave it, rotate the root so that the root is evenly shaven.
If you are not used to it, it might take a while to make sasagaki burdock but once you get the idea, you can shave the root quite fast.
You could also use a peeler to achieve a similar result. If using a peeler, cut the burdock root 10cm/4″ from the tip to quarters lengthwise, then peel where the root is quartered. This is because a peeler tends to make each peeled piece quite wide. As you reach the end of the quartered portion, quarter another 10cm/4″ piece and continue.
Shaved burdock pieces should be placed in water to avoid discolouration as well as to remove the harsh taste from them.
Since burdock is quite stringy and takes a while to become tender, sasagaki cut is best when cooked with other ingredients that don’t require long time to cook through.
Sasagaki burdock can also be purchased at Japanese/Asain grocery stores. It is sold frozen in a bag. I often use frozen sasagaki burdock as it is not easy for me to get a fresh burdock root. If you can only find frozen burdock in stick form that’s OK, but you may want to sauté them a bit longer to tenderise the burdock pieces.Braised Beef and Burdock with Ginger (Shigureni) is a very simple dish but very flavoursome and you can taste the three key ingredients – beef, burdock and ginger – individually. It goes very well with rice.
Shigureni is an excellent make ahead dish. It keeps about 1 week in the fridge and 1 month in the freezer.
PS: I added a new section ‘MEAL IDEAS’ below the recipe card. It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and the new recipe in this post that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you!
Beef and burdock is an excellent combination. Cooked in a sweet soy sauce with a lot of ginger, Braised Beef & Burdock with Ginger is a great side dish that goes so well with rice.
It is a great make ahead dish. It keeps about 1 week in the fridge and 1 month in the freezer.
- 200g/7oz shaved burdock (note 1)
- 200g/7oz very thinly sliced beef , cut into large bite size pieces (note 2)
- 20g/0.7oz ginger , julienned
- ½ tbsp sesame oil
- 100ml/3.4oz water
- 2 tbsp sake
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 2⅓ tbsp soy sauce
- 1½ tbsp sugar
- Finely julienned ginger
Heat sesame oil in a frying pan over high heat.
Add burdock and ginger to the pan and sauté for 3 minutes until the burdock pieces are coated with oil and become slightly transparent.
Add beef and sauté until the colour of the beef slices changes to whitish. No need to cook through.
Add the Flavouring ingredients to the pan and cook, occasionally mix the ingredients.
When the liquid almost evaporates (about 10-15minutes), turn the heat off.
Serve garnished with finely julienned ginger if using.
1. Shaved burdock is a common way of preparing burdock for shigureni. There is a particular way of shaving a burdock root called ‘sasagaki cut’.
The sasagaki cut is very similar to the way you sharpen the wooden part of a pencil using a knife. Shaved burdock needs to be soaked in water to prevent it from discolouration as well as harsh taste. Please see the post for more details.
If you can’t get fresh burdock roots, you can buy frozen burdock already cut in sasagaki at Japanese/Asian grocery stores.
If you can only find frozen burdock sticks, it's OK to use them as alternative. But you may want to sauté them a bit longer to tenderise them.
2. As long as the beef is not a very tough meat for stewing, you can use any cut of beef. If the beef is not a tender cut such as brisket/plate, try to slice it very thinly.
If you can buy thinly sliced beef, just cut it into large bite-size pieces.