8-13: Japanese Beef Casserole

Usually, I give Simply Delicious a hard time for their attempts at “cultural cuisine”–I had gone into 8-13: Japanese Beef Casserole with the same expectations. I even cooked the recipe with that thought in mind–that this was just another lame attempt at something “exotic” for the 1980s housewife crowd to try to excite their disaffected family about. I mean, read that description below and try to imagine how that would go in real life.

However, while researching for the write-up (the last part of this multi-step process), I found some interesting “similar” recipes. I’m still not sure if I’m right or wrong about this one.

Here’s my thoughts on the two things this recipe could be (given my new findings):

  • They might be trying to attempt nikujaga (Japanese “beef stew”), but it’s missing potatoes which are a crucial (and easy to obtain) part of that dish.
  • They’re attempting some sort of pan-Asian sautéed beef/Asian veggies dish that you’d be more likely to find in a dead mall’s food court and just calling it Japanese casserole.

I’m guessing it’s the latter, but if you’d like to decide for yourself, keep reading.

Oh, and that dead mall link above? That’s another one of our projects…

This is just stir-fry that braises for a few minutes at the end–what part of this is even in the same neighborhood as “casserole“? Do you see why I had doubts about this from the beginning?

Ingredients. I took their TIP to use some sesame oil (pictured above), and I’m using some sort of CSA greens (either chard or kale) instead of frozen spinach. For the beef, I’m subbing in two types of fake beef to get some textural variety.

Slicing up the celery. Did you notice that’s a different sesame oil bottle?

Onion gets sliced up too.

The bamboo shoots came in a flat, wide shape so I sliced them once more to make them similar to the celery. I like shape consistency.

Mushrooms get sliced up too.

Greens get chopped down to a more manageable size for eating.

As with most meatless swaps, I need to change the cooking method a bit to accommodate it as well. Since these are already “cooked” but are still frozen, we’ll start by browning them up as recommended.

I removed the “meat” as instructed and moved on to the spinach/greens. Since this ISN’T frozen/thawed, I wanted to wilt it first.

Added in the mushrooms next…you can see the drizzle of sesame oil on top.

After adding in the onions, celery, and bamboo shoots.

Mixing up the broth/sauce. I suppose this is why they consider it a “casserole”. FYI, “Japanese soy sauce” is also known as shoyu, and it’s the traditional thin soy sauce you tend to see in sushi and most other Asian restaurants. It is NOT gluten-free friendly but its cousin tamari is, in case you have gluten sensitivity.

Meat in the middle, veg on the sides as instructed.

Most of the broth/sauce cooks away, so don’t expect it to stay that liquidy for long.

Plated up on top of steamed white rice, as suggested. These were for lunches, and it actually held up well as a lunch dish. But don’t fool yourself–it’s no casserole.

Grade: B+