Food Bloggin' with Chef Patrick Whittaker: Chilled Coconut Miso Soup with Braised Beef

   The soul of this dish is inspired by years of late nights spent decompressing with my fellow line cooks and brothers in arms, sharing boisterous stories from the day's kitchen service over a few brews and simple, delicious food. We'd show off stinging grease burns and brands from white-hot oven doors, beaming with pride. These were our trophies -- hard-earned commendations awarded at the end of a battle.

   Life seemed simpler then, though each day on the line presented its own unique set of challenges and new techniques to perfect. As a young cook closing out a grueling 12-hour, 350-person dinner service, there were typically two things on my mind: cold beer (lots of it), and good grub. A warm bowl of phở and a few skunky macro lagers usually fit the bill just fine. 24-hour phở joints were always well-stocked with both of these staples, and proved to be ideal spots for our motley kitchen crew to relax after a long shift. There’s just something uniquely therapeutic about a simply built, no-frills bowl of clear broth, toothsome vermicelli, fresh herbs, and savory beef.

     This recipe is a throwback to the textures and flavor sensations I enjoy in phở, fusing them together with a flavorful Thai-inspired curry broth. The broth is luxurious and warming as it features the bold, aromatic flavors of ginger, garlic, caramelized onion, and lemon grass. Fresh herbs and vegetables provide a bright freshness that serves to further elevate the gastronomic experience. The unique temperature contrast of the chilled soup and warm, braised beef lends complexity and intrigue to the dish.  It's the perfect entrée to pair with the fleeting days of Spring and prepare for the return of our warm Southern California Summer nights. 

 

Let this recipe for my Miso Soup with Braised Beef warm your soul!

  Photo by Kevin Tackett (@kevinwtackett)

Photo by Kevin Tackett (@kevinwtackett)

For the Broth

  • 1 Tb sesame oil
  • 2 Tb canola oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 Thai chili, minced
  • 2 Tb fish sauce
  • 2 Tb white sugar
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 small hand of ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons green curry paste
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1-quart vegetable stock
  • 1 Tb Shinshu miso (yellow miso paste)
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Soy sauce to taste

For the Beef

  • 1 lb chuck roast
  • 2 Tb canola oil
  • 1-quart beef broth
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 small hand of ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1 stalk of lemon grass, quartered
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper

For the Garnish

  • 1 bunch Thai basil
  • 1 bunch mint
  • 1 bunch scallion, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 1 carrot, sliced into batons, and blanched
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced in batons, and blanched
  • 1 cucumber, cut on the bias and thinly sliced
  • 12 oz Vermicelli rice noodles, blanched
  • Sesame seeds

Procedure

  • In a large pot over medium-high heat, add canola and sesame oils. Once the oil starts to ripple, add onion. Cook until translucent.
  • Add garlic, cook until tan and fragrant.
  • Add the Thai chili, curry paste, turmeric, fish sauce, and sugar. Cook for approximately 30 seconds.
  • De-glaze with vegetable stock. Bring the broth to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  • Add ginger and lemon grass. Stir in miso paste to combine. Simmer for approximately 30 minutes.
  • Using a fine mesh sieve or colander, strain the broth into a mixing bowl. Place that bowl over a second bowl filled with ice. Whisk until cool.
  • Once broth has cooled completely, add the coconut milk. Season to taste with kosher salt and soy sauce. Reserve for plating.
  • Set up two pots of boiling water and an ice bath. Blanch vermicelli rice stick until tender (approximately two minutes), then cool rapidly in the ice bath.
  • Using the same procedure, blanch carrots and bell peppers for approximately one minute.
  • Use a vegetable peeler to peel the skin of the cucumber in ½ inch strips, leaving stripes of skin. Thinly slice on the bias and reserve for plating.

For the Beef

  • Allow the chuck roast to come to room temperature. Season aggressively with salt and pepper.
  • In a sauté pan over medium heat, evenly sear the chuck roast on all sides.
  • Place the chuck roast in an insta-pot or pressure cooker. Top with aromatics and beef broth. Cook for approximately one hour or until fork-tender. Reserve for later use.

Pro Tip: Don’t own an insta-pot or pressure cooker? Get one and change your life! [Alternatively, follow the same procedure outlined above and braise the beef in a 350˚ oven for approximately 2 ½ - 3 hours for comparable results.]

  Photo by Kevin Tackett (@kevinwtackett)

Photo by Kevin Tackett (@kevinwtackett)

Bringing it home

   I like to plate this dish in a deep soup bowl and arrange the pieces neatly so that each garnish is proudly displayed. I serve the broth and garnishes cold, with the exception of the warm, braised beef. The contrast of hot to cold is savory and satisfying, and particularly refreshing in warm weather. [Though if it’s still cold in your neck of the woods this time of year, this soup is just as wonderful served piping hot!]

   Pair with a generous pour of Space Trace, our Imperial Stout aged for over a years’ time in top shelf bourbon barrels and then finished with soft, sweet coconut and Camino Verde cocoa nibs. The creamy richness of the broth's coconut milk marries beautifully with the coconut notes in the beer, while the contrasting capsaicin heat of the curry slowly builds with each sip of the spirited stout. The Public Sale for Space Trace goes live at noon on Sunday, 4/15. Check out the Eventbrite sale site here for all the details! 

   I hope you enjoy this dish and boldly go where no man has gone before with my out-of-this-word food and beverage pairing! And as always-

Eat well, drink craft.

Pat whittaker

Posted on April 14, 2018 .