Monday, November 19, 2012

Beef Okazu

It's only 3 days until the most anticipated food holiday of the year. Yet here i am. Giving you a Japanese ground beef dish.

So, why no tips on brining your turkey, top ten recipes for yams, or creative ways to re-use leftovers? Well, I decided that I hate pre-Thanksgiving dinners. Don't get me wrong, I love Thanksgiving dinner. All year I look forward to a big plateful of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce, followed by days and days of turkey & cran sandwiches, pulled BBQ turkey with coleslaw, and all kinds of pies. And that's exactly why I'm not making and testing and eating and blogging Thanksgiving dishes before the big day—I don't want to ruin it! That moment each year when the first forkful of turkey dipped in potatoes and gravy (a little smear of cranberry from where they touched on the plate) reaches my mouth... that's what the anticipation is all about. I mean sure, thanksgiving is also about family and friends (and boozing and Black Friday), but it's those things combined with the meal that make Thanksgiving food taste so great. Mom getting up at the crack of dawn to put the turkey in the oven, Amanda trying to sneak extra mustard in the deviled eggs, Dad stealing little bites of pecan pie when no one's looking. The food just wouldn't be as special or taste as good without that whole package.

So, no early-November pumpkin pie in this house… today you get okazu. Which is actually a great pre-Thanks recipe: quick and fuss-free, perfect for a busy weeknight, great for pre-holiday company. My friend Ben told me about okazu about a year ago, and I've been thinking about it ever since. Ground beef cooked in sweet soy sauce with green beans, served over rice. So easy, and so good. What's not easy is finding recipes for okazu. After scouring the internet, I really only found a couple recipes or mentions of this version of the dish (turns out that okazu means "side dish"). Luckily, Ben gave me a pretty good visual of how his okazu turns out (literally, he texted me a picture last time he made it). I went ahead and added some extra goodies to mine—mushrooms, onions, ginger—so I'm not sure if this is what okazu is supposed to taste like. But…I don't care, because this, my friends, is delicious. 

Do you have an okazu recipe? Let me know!

Beef Okazu with Green Beans and Mushrooms

Olive oil (enough to coat bottom of pan)
1/2 onion, diced
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 lbs ground beef
2 cups green beans, trimmed and halved
1/3 cup soy sauce
1.5 tablespoons sugar (everything I saw called for white granulated sugar, I used brown)
Pinch of ground ginger 
salt and pepper to taste
Green onion, sriracha, and brown rice, to serve

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium. Add onion and cook several minutes, until translucent and just starting to brown. Add mushrooms, and continue cooking, until mushrooms are soft and desired stage of sautéed (I like mine near caramelized, but it's up to you). Add garlic, cook for a minute or so, and add ground beef. Stir to break up mean, and cook until browned. Add green beans and about a cup of water, cover, and cook about 10-15 minutes. Add soy sauce, sugar, and ginger, and cook uncovered until it thickens up a bit. Final product should be saucy, but not super watery. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve over brown rice, with green onion and sriracha to garnish. 
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