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Also called hayashi raisu, hayashi rice is the Japanese version of beef stew. A yoshoku, or an adaptation of a Western dish, hayashi rice is a staple food in Japanese homes, similar in popularity and comfort to a grilled cheese sandwich in the United States. Like grilled cheese, hayashi rice is often a nostalgic dish that many Japanese remember fondly from their youths.
Hayashi rice owes its origins to beef stew dishes like stroganoff and bourguignon. The term "hayashi" is derived from hashed beef, indicating the type of meat served in this dish. Hayashi rice almost always uses tender, quick-cooking beef cuts, though a few recipes may use pork. Often, however, those raised on hayashi reject the idea of using pork for this stew.
A key ingredient to hayashi rice is demi-glace. This is a thick, pasty beef stock that can be homemade or purchased pre-made. Making the demi-glace is the only truly complicated part of the stew, and those who do not have the premade versions available may be tempted to add simple beef stock or broth instead. Normal stock or broth, however, is a poor substitute. It is neither thick enough nor flavorful enough to serve the purpose of the demi-glace and should be avoided.
Demi-glace is made by initially making beef stock and continually reducing it until it is a thick paste. To make beef stock, marrow-filled beef bones and, usually, scraps of meat, are simmered in water to allow the beef flavor to permeate the liquid. Demi-glace goes a step farther however, boiling off a considerable portion of the water in order to produce a thick, strongly flavored liquid.
To make hayashi rice, beef, onions, carrots, and mushrooms are thinly sliced. The beef is first browned in oil, then set aside while the onion is sautéed, usually in butter. After the onion cooks, the garlic, carrots, and mushrooms are added. Afterward, the vegetables and meat are transferred to a stock pot where the demi-glace, along with water, tomato paste, red wine, and any spices, are added. Spices generally include bay leaves and thyme. The stew is then reduced, usually by half.
Sauce is also included in hayashi rice. Made by adding flour to melted butter, the sauce also includes Worcestershire and soy sauce. In Japan, grocery stories commonly sell roux blocks which provide the sauce for the stew. Once the stew is complete, it is served over cooked rice and garnished with parsley or green peas.
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