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Recipes and stories for everything but the oink.

The Nasty Bits: Beef Trim Sukiyaki

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[Photographs: Chichi Wang]

Last week I acquired, through no real doing of my own, beef scraps from various friends and places. It started with a bag that Kenji gave me, along with one long section of a rib bone. Then there was this brisket event I attended. We lined up for brisket and all the fixin's and everybody got a half pound, which is really more meat than I can handle in one sitting. So I took my leftover brisket to go, and those bits of smoky beef went into the pot too.

I planned to make sukiyaki, usually comprised of thin slices of fatty round eye, browned a little in oil before being simmered in a broth of soy sauce and mirin, along with vegetables, tofu, udon or soba, and what have you. But you see the general idea, that fatty beef tastes good with soy sauce and mirin.

So I simmered the scraps for two hours with a bottle of sake and some water. The rib bone Kenji gave me was so long I couldn't quite close the lid, but then I figured out that I could prop the lid just so on the bone and have the broth simmering at just the right pace. When the beef was cooked, I added the pieces of smoked brisket.

The day after, I de-fatted the broth by taking off the layer of beef fat that had risen to the top. I really like tallow. When it hardens, it looks and feels just like soap.

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To the bubbling broth, I added cube tofu, greens, noodles. You are supposed to dip your pieces of beef in beaten egg, the last enrich-er before the meat makes it into your mouth.

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My, but it was just so wonderful. The raw beef I'd stewed was fatty and tender. The pieces of smoked brisket had given up some of their smokiness to the sweet and savory broth, yet the meat was still flavorful. My favorite parts were the little scraps that were just the right mix of fat flecked with tendon. And coating everything in egg? Genius.

I wished that I had more scraps to make into beef trim sukiyaki. It made me intensely sad, just thinking that this pot of sukiyaki wouldn't last forever. Then it occurred to me that trim is pretty easy to come by at a butcher shop, and so the next time a craving hits, I wouldn't have to wait for beef scraps from friends. I could just go out and get my own scraps. That was nice thing to realize, in my moment of need.

About the author: Born in Shanghai and raised in New Mexico, Chichi Wang currently resides in Manhattan, where she divides her time between writing, cooking, and tracking down the best noodles in the city. Visit her blog, Mostly Tripe.

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