Warm and Cozy Beef Bourguignon

There’s something extra cozy about coming in from the cold to a huge pot of something delicious bubbling away on the stove. It’s been extra cold here in Tokyo. The other day, we went to a pottery fair and froze our butts off looking at all the gorgeous pieces. I felt bad for the vendors – at least we were able to move into the sunny patches and warm up for a bit.

Cold as it was, we had a blast! There was a DIY yakimochi corner where you could buy two mochi cakes, toast them over a grill, then enjoy them on a handmade plate. It was extra cozy, warming up our hands over the grill. I’ve never had yaki mochi with just miso before, but I think it’s going to be a regular thing now. After we filled our bellies, we took at look at the pottery — it was gorgeous. We bought 5 bowls and then stopped because our luggage space is a premium and I promised myself (and Mike) that this time, I wouldn’t buy so much stuff to bring home.

Speaking of home, after being in the cold for so long, it would have been awesome to tuck into this beef bourguignon. But since I made this back in Vancouver, it was not meant to be. Instead I asked Mike if we could stop into a combini (convenience store) to buy some kairo – little disposable Japanese hand warmers that you shake up to activate. My hands were so cold that they didn’t feel warm at all. It would’ve been bomb if I had little hot foil packets filled with stew, that I could rip open and eat. But I don’t think there’s much of a market for that…

Anyway, back to this beef bourguignon! It’s thick, rich, and beefy – just what you want in a stew. I made it for an ongoing rotating dinner that we have going on with a good friend. We take turns cooking dinner every week (when we’re all in town), usually something that’s impressive/out of our comfort zone. I guess I kind of cop out a little bit because I’m always leaving it to the last minute. I really have to up my cooking game! Any impressive dishes that you guys have up your sleeves?

The thing is, I always have a ton of things I want to make, but then, when put on the spot, I blank. It took me forever to decide to make beef bourguignon, mostly because I thought it wasn’t impressive enough. But, the truth is, sometimes you don’t want impressive (I hope!). Sometimes you just want a rib-sticking big bowl of stew.

Hmm, now that I think about it, I guess this isn’t just basic beef stew. Typically, if I were doing a basic kind of thing, I’d literally throw everything into a pot and let it gently simmer for a couple of hours and call it a day. Here, I seared the beef in “steaks” because I’ve found that searing cubes is kind of time consuming. Bonus, I like the contrast of seared and un-seared bits on each cube of meat. I also strayed from the typical salt and added soy and fish sauce as umami boosters, which isn’t traditional, but adds that extra bit of oomph. Oh, one last thing, I love cooking the vegetables separately – they retain their bite and flavor without turning into mush. Definitely do the pearl onions, even if peeling them is a bitch. They are one of my favorite parts!

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