In a couple weeks I’m co-hosting a ‘Japanese Burns Night‘ at Bump Caves, an avant garde cocktail and craft beer bar located at the south side of Tower Bridge. The event is the brainchild of Bump’s impressively bearded and really quite clever manager Max Chater; when he proposed the idea, I have to admit it sounded pretty odd, even by my standards. But as I developed the menu and tested recipes, I had a lot of fun trying to find ways to connect two food cultures that seem so disparate. The finished menu will include an oden-ized version of Cullen skink; a cranachan with Japanese flavors like black sesame and kumquat; haggis gyoza; and as a main, a bridie filled with yaki-curry, Mojiko’s famous cheesy curry.
For the bridie filling, I braised beef cheeks in water, soy sauce, sake, and a little Shaoxing wine with onions, garlic, star anise, kombu, and ginger for 7 hours. I then removed the cheeks and diced them, thickened the braising liquid with Japanese curry roux and Caribbean curry powder, and added edamame. I boiled the beans until tender, then folded back in the chopped cheeks along with in a can of corn (although that’s only to fill my daily corn quota – it won’t be in the finished bridie). The finished curry then went into the fridge to chill and set.
I made a shortcrust dough using half butter and half lard, and assembled the bridies by filling them with some of the curry mix and a few chunks of Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese. After an egg wash and an hour in the oven, the bridies were golden brown and aromatic. I served them with tender young greens, sauteed in butter and seasoned with unpasteurized shōyu and fresh bergamot juice. Though the pastry wasn’t quite right (I think it should be flaky rather than short) the whole dish was satisfyingly sweet and hearty. There’s always a little thrill that comes with cutting into a hot pastry parcel to reveal its rich, gooey innards. Those attending our Japanese Burns Night celebration are in for a treat.