Anyway, I wanted to make something a little less conventional and suitable for the holiday season. What came to mind was goat stew, but I wanted to make it even more unorthodox, so I added an ingredient that I knew nothing about: fermented bean curd. I found this ingredient at the Asian supermarket in the spices section.
The smell of fermented bean curd is very strong and pungent. It looked like reddish purplish mush, not very sexy at all. But I thought it would be perfect for a stew, its strong umami and sour flavor melding with the tenderness of the meat.
Here's the mise en place:
A close up of the goat meat I used. From the squawking Chinese that the lady at the Asian supermarket, I pieced together that the cut of meat I was sold was from the leg. Indeed, the goat meat was tough and fibrous, tendons and muscles running along with the grain. This was perfect meat for stewing. There was also a small round bone in a few pieces, probably the femur or something.First, I gently sauteed some crushed garlic in olive oil until the garlicky flavor infused into the oil.
Since this was an Asian dish, I added some Asian "aromatics" -- roughly chopped scallions and slices of fresh ginger root.
I then added the star of the show -- the fermented bean curd. I took about two spoonfuls (maybe two tablespoons worth) of the funky ingredient and added it carefully to the stew base. It was slightly solid so using a spoon I tried to break it up as best I could.
Once the meat had browned (but was still raw inside), I added star anise, some soy sauce, and water to cover. I brought the mixture to a simmer and let it stew for a few hours, covered. If the level of liquid got too low, I added water.
I was so hungry when it was done that I forgot to take a photo of the finished product, but it was glorious. The house was filled with warm scents of star anise and ginger, the meat was tender and succulent, and the taste of the stew was rich and deep. It warmed me right up.
Recipe: Goat Stew with Fermented Bean Curd Sauce
1 lb goat meat (preferably leg or other stew meat), in 1.5 inch cubes
3 green onions, chopped into two inch sections, diagonally cut
1.5 tablespoons of sliced ginger (about a thumb's worth)
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons good quality soy sauce
3 star anise
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons fermented bean curd (you can probably find this at an Asian supermarket)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1. Heat the oil on medium-high heat. Add the crushed garlic and saute for 1 minute, or until aromatic. Add the ginger and scallions and saute for another minute.
2. Add the fermented bean curd and try to break apart as finely as possible. Cook for another minute or two, or until aromatic.
3. Add the goat meat, cooking all over until browned.
4. Add the star anise, soy sauce, and water to cover.
5. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook, covered, for at least 2.5 hours, or until the meat is tender and comes easily off the bone. Add water from time to time if the level goes too low.
6. Add sugar to the stew and make sure it is completely dissolved.
7. Serve immediately.