The Japanese have many dishes that originated somewhere in the world, but recreated it in such a way that fits to their taste. Curry, from India, is a good example. Japanese curry isn't the same curry as the kind from India. It's a lot sweeter, and thicker. Hamburger aka humbagu is eaten without buns (very gay, actually, I sometimes order burgers without buns for less carbs). Or how about my last week's post on turning pasta into ramen noodles?! We are crazy about turning western food into Japanese food. We are very good at copying something that already exists, and making it better, at least in our opinions. Nowadays China is going to that direction.
Anyhow, hayashi rice is something nostalgic for many Japanese. It's not fancy, very simple, almost a blue-collar type of meal. Definitely comfort food. It's basically simple thinly-sliced beef and onions cooked in demi-glace sauce.
Why the term hayashi? Apparently, it's either that someone named Mr. Hayashi created it, or it was a mispronunciation of "hash" (hashed beef) that turned the word into hayashi.
Just like curry, you can buy a precooked roux and all you need to do is cook meat and onion, then add water and the roux.
But where is the fun in that? Another reason I made this is because one of my friend's got all her meat-related items confiscated at JFK when she returned from Japan with a suitcase full of gourmet curry, gourmet hayashi mix, etc. In her opinion, instant mix isn't good enough, and I wanted to prove to her that she can make something very good with a little bit of this and that you can obtain here in the US.
One of the weirdest obsessions of Japanese people is demi-glace sauce. This very French sauce is super popular in Japan. Unfortunately, due to various cow diseases, Japanese-made demi-glace sauce isn't available in the US anymore. Williams-Sonoma carries very expensive demi-glace from France, but it's all too authentic, and for us Japanese, something is missing. Maybe MSG? Anyhow, I found this demi glace sauce by chef Troy, whoever he is, and I decided to give a try.
Here is the recipe. First melt 4 tbsp of butter in a pan, then add 160g of flour. Cook until golden, or looks like dirt.
This isn't dirt-y enough.
It takes a while, but be patient. Meanwhile, be careful not to burn this--it will ruin the whole sauce.
This almost copper-like flour butter is what you need.
Add 400ml of red wine, stir very well. I found that it's almost impossible to lose all the lumps, but it's ok. We will take care of this later. Then add 1600ml beef stock, or dashi. Original recipe I found said dashi, but I found that beef stock actually adds more depth.
To get rid of lumps, strain through.
Cut up about 4 onions.
Brown thinly sliced beef that you can buy at either Japanese or Korean grocery stores. About 1.5 lb, or how much you like.
Once the meat is browned, add onions, and cook for a couple of minutes. Then add to the sauce base.
The very nice thing about hayashi rice is that there's no need to simmer it to cook everything down. But I like the hayashi thickened, so I cooked this for about two hours. I added about half the jar of demi-glace sauce, then some ketchup, some tonkatsu sauce, and some Worcestershire sauce. For this part, it's really difficult to tell you the exact amount. Just like everyone's individual curry recipe, you have to play around with a bunch of stuff to make it to your liking.
While you are cooking it down, put 4 tbsp of sugar on non stick pan, and heat it all up.
Yes, you are basically making caramel.
Once all the sugar melts and starts to caramelize, add the liquid from the hayashi sauce (try not to get any meat or onions in it). It will bubble up so be careful not to burn yourself.
Add enough liquid to melt all the sugar. Once the sugar melts, put this mixture in to the sauce base.
It adds a golden color to the sauce.
After about 2 hours, it cooked down quite a bit.
Serve with rice. You can also add mushrooms, and sprinkle green peas on top for color.
This is very comfy, and the caramelized sugar added depth to it, plus American-made-demi-glace-for-Japanese-suckers-like-me works very nicely. I bet chef Troy's wife is Japanese. Sure it takes longer than using instant roux, but being patient and browning the flour butter is definitely worthwhile.
By the way, my recipe makes a large potful, so you can definitely halve the ingredients if you prefer small portions.