Hi friends! How was your Thanksgiving? How are you faring back at work this week? We spent a slow and peaceful Thanksgiving here in Brooklyn, just us and dumplings (and ramen and musubis and pie), with snow and wintry mix drifting down outside our windows. Our work phones went off zero times, our butts stayed firmly on the couch, and I don’t think we stopped eating once after the first potstickers went on the (coffee) table at 4 PM. I’m so excited to see family over Christmas, but still, our tiny, cozy Thanksgiving was all I could have asked for. If you celebrated, how was your holiday? I’d love to hear all that you ate!
Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, I’m bonkers-excited to transition to all things Christmas. We spent Advent Sunday goofy-dancing to Christmas music and setting up our Christmas decorations (and also working, boo). The steel-grey weather outside demanded comfort food, so I’ve had stews of all kinds simmering away. The Thanksgiving bird is a mystery to me, but slow-braised, Christmas-y stews are my jam — this Korean soy-braised one especially. Bowl #2’s mother taught me how to make it a few years ago and I’ve been obsessed ever since. It’s hearty, savory-sweet (of course) and intensely spicy, full of coarsely ground black pepper, bright green Korean chilis, sweet onions cooked down to soft, jam-like translucence, and chunks of meltingly tender flank steak. Best of all, after all the time and labor that went into cooking for Thanksgiving, it comes together with absolutely no fuss — just a bit of hands-off patience and a few hours of deliberately low-and-slow simmering. We had it alongside some aptly red-and-green cucumber kimchi (made from this recipe, throwback alert) and, befitting of the season, we ate until we were stuffed.
Of course, a post about Christmas can’t end without some gift talk! Until I figure out how to send holiday cookies to everyone, I’m pairing up with the wonderful folks at Staub to give away my ideal present to one of you — a gorgeous 5.5 quart cast-iron cocotte, just like the one I used here (except in the color of your choice! And without beef in it.) I’ve been dreaming of a sturdy, sleek Dutch oven like this one for longer than I can remember, and — after dancing around the entire apartment with it like a crazy person — I’ve been using it nonstop since the moment it graced our kitchen. On top of turning out perfectly-simmered stews, it’s boiled down cups of apple cider for caramels, heated sugar syrup for marshmallows, roasted chicken legs à la Jamie Oliver, and I have grand plans for a boule sometime soon. The cocotte has a comforting heft without being unmanageable, the lid has small (blunt) spikes that aid in self-basting your braised meats, and the seasoning is perfection — it cleans like magic and nothing sticks. For something I hyped in my mind for so long, it’s still managed to exceed all my expectations. I’m so excited it might find its way to one of your holiday tables too!
To enter the giveaway, just use the widget below or leave a comment on this post about anything — your favorite thing about the holidays, your favorite holiday food, your ideal gift, something about this recipe, it’s all gravy. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only (I’m sorry, international friends!) and ends next Tuesday, December 9 at 11:59 PM EST. The winner will be chosen at random and contacted by email. Happy holidays!!
It took me a long time to learn this, but consistently (sometimes frustratingly) low heat and a long, long simmering time are key to tender braised beef. Something magical happens after the second hour, I swear. If you're in a rush, this is fine for serving after one hour, but it's incomparably good at two or three and only gets better with time. It also keeps wonderfully in the fridge for at least three to four days (plus the flavor will improve overnight) and will freeze for up to 3 months.
- 2 lbs flank steak, sliced against the grain into cubes
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 3 to 4 Korean green chili peppers, whole for less spicy and sliced for more (see Notes for substitutions)
- 1 jalapeno, sliced (optional, for extra heat)
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup soy sauce
- 3 to 4 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
- about 4-6 cups water (or enough to cover the beef)
- 1/3 cup whole garlic cloves, peeled and smashed (see Notes)
- 3 to 4 eggs (see Notes)
- Place the cubed beef in a 4 or 5-quart Dutch oven or stockpot with the onion, Korean peppers, jalapeno, soy sauce, brown sugar, black pepper, and enough water to fully submerge the meat. Turn the heat to low and cover. Simmer on low heat only for at least two hours, but ideally three or more, or until meat falls apart easily when a fork is inserted. That's it!
Many recipes call for parboiling the beef to remove impurities and adding the braising broth later -- I didn't see a huge difference in taste or quality by doing it all at once, so I omitted that step for simplicity's sake.
Don't worry if the stew seems like it's taking forever to heat up or boil. The less it simmers, the better. If you want to shave a few minutes off the cooking time, you can start by heating it over medium heat for a few minutes, just until the liquid is almost hot but not boiling, then reduce to low heat.
Korean gochu peppers are generally milder and sweeter than jalapenos. If you can't find them, Anaheim peppers would be a similar substitute; Italian long hot green peppers also work well. Alternatively, you could just use less jalapenos, one sliced and one or two whole. In addition, since it's hard to tell sometimes how spicy peppers will be, I generally start conservatively and add a few more slices of jalapeno or a few more peppers about halfway through cooking if it's too mild.
On that note, I find that these stews tend to vary in how much seasoning they need each time I make them, so in any case, it might be a good idea to taste the braising liquid (not the beef) about an hour in, or when the meat is fully cooked but still tough. If bland, add more soy sauce and pepper; if too spicy, add a bit of sugar and remove peppers; if too salty, remove some broth and add water.
Some versions of jangjorim add garlic or kombu for more flavor; you can do that if you like! Finally, you can also add a few eggs near the end, which soak up the stew flavor really nicely. To cook the eggs, add them (unshelled) to the pot about 15-20 minutes before the stew is done. Let simmer for 10 minutes, then remove and tap the shells with a knife or spoon to create cracks (like this post) and return to the broth until ready to serve.