Thursday, 25 September 2008

Beef stew with daikon

With the passing of the solstice, summer has officially come to an end and the weather has turned distinctively cooler. Here in Vancouver, our Indian summer of 18 straight days of sunshine has turned to the grey and drizzly weather that this neck of the woods is supposedly (in)famous for. Cold days equals comfort food, and to AP nothing says comfort food on a cold day like a good ol' beef stew.

Beef stew out of the oven

This traditional English beef stew ended up with the one rather untraditional ingredient: daikon. Most commonly known as daikon (particularly in Japanese cuisine, it is also called mooli, white radish or Chinese radish. It looks rather like a giant white carrot. When planning for the stew, I was going to buy the typical carrots and parsnips, but the parsnips didn't look great that day. The pieces of squash available were also too large for what I needed. Then I spotted a pile of beautiful daikon and thought it might just work. I grew up eating daikon in soups and stews in Chinese cooking and there was no reason why it shouldn't work in a beef stew. It has a lovely sweet flavour and as a root vegetable it is hardy enough to stand up to the long hours of cooking.

Carrots and white radish (daikon)

The result was very pleasing indeed with the combined sweetness of carrots and daikon. The beauty of a stew is that you can put in so many different types of vegetables and grains according to taste and what's available and still end up with up a comforting and nourishing meal. Some other ingredients to try are butternut squash, pumpkin, potatoes, barley and celery (which AP detests).

Sliced carrot and daikon
Mushrooms and shallots

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

500g casserole steak, cut into cubes
2 tbsp plain flour for dusting
6-8 shallots, peeled
6-8 button mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 medium carrots, roughly sliced or chopped
1 small daikon, roughly chopped
A few stalks of rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
250ml beef stock
250ml red wine (optional; add more stock to replace)
2 tbsp tomato puree
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp paprika (optional)
A handful of parsley, chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 160C/gas mark 3. Toss the beef in the flour to coat lightly. Heat some oil in a frying pan and brown the beef in batches, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Transfer the beef to a casserole dish.

2. Add the garlic, shallots and mushrooms to the pan and fry them for a couple of minutes (one ingredient at a time if necessary) before transferring to the casserole dish. Add the carrots, daikon and rosemary to the casserole dish.

3. Place the casserole dish on the stove over medium heat and add the stock, wine and tomato puree (you need enough liquid to just cover the meat and veg). Season with salt, pepper and paprika and bring the mixture to the boil on the stove, stirring to mix well. Cover and cook in the middle of the oven for 3 to 4 hours.

Beef stew ready for the oven

The cooking time will depend on the cut of the meat, the longer it takes, the better the flavour and texture of the meat. The dish is ready when the meat breaks apart easily when mashed with a wooden spoon. After it is cooked, the stew can be kept in the oven on 110C/gas mark 1/4 until ready to serve. Sprinkle the parsley onto the beef stew just before serving. I normally serve this with fresh crusty bread although the stew also goes well with rice or potatoes.

You can put the stew in the oven, go to class, meet a friend, run some errands, watch a football match, go to church etc. and let the oven do its job. If you don't like having the oven on with nobody in the house, the stew can also be cooked in slow cooker/crockpot. Just toss all the ingredients into the slow cooker instead of a casserole dish and leave it on 'Low' or 'Auto' setting for 6 hours or longer. Do this in the morning before leaving for school or work, and come back to the wonderful smell and taste of comfort food.

Beef stew


Nolwenn said...

It looks very yummy. Here in south-west of France, days are becoming shorter, and the sun plays hide-and-seek.
Is daikon easy to find in Vancouver ?

I love stews in autumn and winter :)

tigerfish said...

That's what I miss about having seasons. In Singapore where it is "summer" all year round, we do not have the "mood" to celebrate the kind of food we eat....

Lizzie said...

I prefew daikon stewed to raw. Beef and mooli stew is my favourite, flavoured with star anise.

skinnymum said...

i always wanted to make beef stew, but don't know how to do it. looks pretty doable by my newbie standard, will try it out this weekend.
thanks for sharing!

Mrs Ergül said...

I like how the slow cooker can do the job while you're at work! This sure looks like a great comfort food!

Angry Asian said...

this looks incredibly warm and inviting. i just made a beef this week for my honey and he looves it. out of curiousity, do you eat it with bread or any accompaniment? as a kid i dipped french bread in the gravy... thanks!

Nilmandra said...

Nolwenn: I think we'll be having stews more often now in the coming months, we love them for the cold weather too. And yes, daikon is readily available here in Vancouver because of the large Asian population.

Tigerfish: Yeah I know what you mean. I've really grown to love eating seasonally, whether it's by the seasonal weather, or with seasonal produce. No such differentiation in Singapore! Although on cold rainy days I love my fish head curry and tom yum soup, heh.

Lizzie: Now that I can get daikon so easily here (cheaper than in the UK, and consistently better quality too) I'll be cooking with it more. So there will be more recipes up soon :)

Skinny mum: Stew is dead easy, just throw everything in a pot and put in the oven! The only thing it needs is a long cooking time so as long as you make sure you don't skimp on the cooking time, you're ok. Sometimes if I'm in a hurry I even skip the browning stage. Just put the beef and all ingredients in the casserole dish or slow cooker without dusting with flour and browning the meat. Even quicker.

Mrs Ergul: Yeah, I do miss my slow cooker that way :-/ I used to cook stews and soups and leave them to cook while I'm at work. I sold my slow cooker when we left the UK and I don't really want to buy another one here that will have to be sold/given away again when we move. Ah well.

Angry Asian: Thanks. We tend to eat beef stew with crusty French loaves, but also with rice or potatoes sometimes.

Nate-n-Annie said...

That looks very tasty. I could go for a bowl of that with some rice!

Have you ever made nikujaga?

Marie said...

What a smart idea! I love daikon. I'm so curious to know what it tastes like in a traditional beef stew as I'm used to eating it prepared with Asian flavors.

mycookinghut said...

I love one-pot dish!! In fact, I just posted my first autumn/winter one-pot recipe -
Stew is always my favourite. To be honest with you, I have not tried to used daikon in my cooking. Well, my mom makes soup with daikon and I absolutely love it, but its flavour. I think it's definitely a good idea to add it in beef stew!!

Jags said...

I usually cook mine in my lovely little crock pot instead of baking it

soups and stews are a wonderful way of cleaning those not so fresh, but still edible veggies from the fridge (i did this the other day with my ginger chicken cabbage soup)

the celery looked wimpy and the mushrooms dried out a little, but you couldn't tell when you ate em all up!

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

I love daikon with beef. Never tried it with "traditional" beef stew flavours though so that's something to look forward to. Yeah, it's cold, it's damp, it's grey -- but it's also beautiful here this time of year. :)

DocChuck said...

My wife, Doctor Elizabeth, and I love beef stew.

But we have never thought of adding daikon to our stew.

Thank you so much for your post.

DocChuck and his wife, Dr. E.

Beachlover said...

look good but too bad I can't take beef.I want to cook some beef for hubby but the only dish I know is stewed beef with carrot and potatoes.I will omit daikon and mushroom for him.Thanks for sharing:))

Nilmandra said...

Nate-n-Annie: No I have not, but having just googled nikujaga, I think I might!

Marie: Thanks! I'm glad it worked out fine too, otherwise the husband would have been quite upset with not having his favourite beef stew haha.

My Cooking Hut: Mmmm I've not made congee for a long time. You're making me crave some!

Jags: Indeed, stews and soups are the best ways to use up leftovers.

Eatingclub Vancouver: It is still pretty, I am looking forward to seeing the fall colours in full glory :)

Doc Chuck: Thanks for the comment.

Beachlover: You can't eat beef? That's a shame. Carrots and potatoes work well with the stew too, it is easy to adapt to whatever you have available or according to taste.

noobcook said...

beef stew... I should try to make it one day. Yours look glorious! I think daikons are a great addition... the Japanese use it for their stews too :D

Heather said...

fabulous version of a classic. It's been over 95 degrees here all week (California).

Nilmandra said...

Noobcook: Beef stew is not exactly a very Singaporean dish with the climate, heh.

Heather: Thanks! It's gone quite cold and rainy last week, and then unseasonally warm and sunny again for the past few days. It's set to go back to 'normal' again tomorrow though, and rain for the next 4-5 days. Ack.

Cherry Blossom said...

I cooked this wonderful dish for the first time two weeks ago, and it turned out just lovely. My husband and I love it so much that I just made it again tonight. It's simmering away in the slow cooker as I type this. :D

Nilmandra said...

Chery Blossom: Thanks for the note, it's really nice to hear that :) It's snowing heavily right now where I am; a beef stew would be perfect. And it tastes even better as leftovers and reheated, as the flavours continue to mingle and develop.

Cherry Blossom said...

I recently moved from Australia to the USA (Indiana) to be with my American husband, and I've been craving a dish that reminds me of home. British and Australian cuisine tends to be very similar, so it was a very nice reminder indeed! I may try it with lamb someday soon. Mmm...

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