Chef Matt Basile’s recipe combines rich, meaty beef cheeks and the exotic flavours of bulgogi to create an impressive and easy to make, appetizer – Chef Matt Basile’s Beef Cheek Bulgogi Ravioli!
I love it when the recipes we get for Chefs #LoveCDNbeef use an atypical cut of beef. Beef cheeks have appeared in a couple of recipes so far, and like this one are popping up on restaurant menus. In fact, this dish is available on the menu at Lisa Marie, Matt’s restaurant, in Toronto. But they are still relatively unknown to home cooks, and given the value and the flavour of this cut I’m happy to help show home cooks how to start using them.
Beef cheeks are rich and meaty, and this recipe creates a simple and tasty appetiser. Ironically, for such an easy recipe, it is the dish that turned out the most unlike the Chef’s version. I blame it on the fact that Matt was finalizing the dish for the restaurant when he shared it with me for Chefs #LoveCDNbeef, so I didn’t get to see his final plating until after I had made mine.
Notice my ravioli on the left look like turnovers or dumplings. Matt’s on the other hand look like nice ravioli. This might be because I have eaten a lot more dumplings in my life than ravioli or because I’m stingy with the wonton wrappers. Whatever the reason, the dish works well no matter which way you stuff your ravioli. (No, that is not a euphemism.) This dish was such a hit with the friend’s we were visiting when we made it that I barely had any left to photograph when I was done cooking them. I had to actually chase people out of the kitchen so we could have a single serving to show you the final dish
A couple of quick notes before you get the recipe:
- shopping note: Beef cheeks are a great cut to cook with – inexpensive, flavourful and very, very tender if braised. The problem is that they are a little hard to find at times. I spoke to a lot of butchers before buying them this time. Most had a couple of beef cheeks in the freezer and they all said they could order some in for me. Of course I wanted fresh and now, which is why I kept asking. I finally got them from Sanagan’s who have been a reliable source here in Toronto most times I have needed beef cheeks.
- measurements: Matt has included measurements, but most of this recipe is made to your tastes. Like more garlic? Add more garlic? Hate ginger… well, then don’t make this recipe. Bulgogi needs some ginger, but you can control how much.
- soya sauce: Don’t worry about the volume of soya sauce, it seems like a lot but it’s right and not a typo. (BTW 500ml is approximately 2 cups so it’s the same amount of soy sauce as ginger beer and water.)
- ginger beer: Ginger beer is similar to ginger ale but with a much stronger ginger bite to it. Ginger beer is available across the country in places that have interesting soda pop, but I find the President’s Choice Jamaican-Style Ginger Beer (available in 2L bottles) is excellent. If you can’t find ginger beer, you can use ginger ale.
- assembly: you’ll note from the photos that I did a dumpling fold and Matt did a proper ravioli. I didn’t even think of doing it that way. Both work, but you get a more substantial bite if you do it Matt’s way and it takes less time to make a full batch because the ravioli are larger.
- braising: Matt mentions covering the braising container with “saran or foil.” From personal experience using generic household plastic wrap, even if you put it under foil, is not a good idea because it disintegrates. (Not to mention all the cooking-with-plastic issues.) I hear that the Saran Wrap brand can be used and you can see it used on cooking shows like Top Chef for braises all the time, but the official word from Saran Wrap is their product can’t be used in the oven. More importantly, it turned into a hot mess when I tried it, so I’d recommend sticking with tight fitting lids or foil.
- post-braise: when Matt & I were comparing notes, I told him how the well the meat jelled as it cooled overnight. Then before stuffing the ravioli, we spent time shredding it all over again. You don’t really have to. You can cut it into little chunks and use those to stuff the ravioli. It will work just as well, and in fact, likely make a cleaner ravioli.
- 4 lbs beef cheek
- 500 ml ginger beer
- 500 ml water
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 2 cups soya sauce
- 1 splash sesame oil
- garlic (to taste – I put in 1 head, I like garlic)
- ginger (to taste – I put in 1 large knob, I like ginger)
- 1 package of wonton wrappers
- 1 egg
- Salt and pepper the beef cheeks
- Make your braising solution by: mixing together the water, ginger beer, soy sauce, sesame oil, chopped garlic and ginger
- Cover the beef cheeks with the braising solution
- Cover the beef cheeks with saran or foil
- Set your oven to 275F and braise the cheeks for 5 hours
- Remove beef cheeks from the oven, pull meat apart and let cool overnight
The next day
- Loosen the meat again, or if it has jelled cut it into slices or chunks small enough to fit into the ravioli. (Don’t worry, the jelly will melt as it cooks and create a nice juicy filling.)
- Add chopped cilantro
- Stuff the cold meat into a wonton wrapper
- Seal the edges of the wonton wrapper with egg
- Blanch the ravioli for 30 seconds in boiling water.
- Sear each stuffed wonton, for a couple of minutes per side, in a non stick pan and some oil
and, as Matt says “… boom! Bulgogi ravioli”
- serve on a plate with various dipping sauces like sriracha, rice wine vinegar and soy sauce, oyster sauce
- top with finely chopped green onion and microgreens
Again, Matt and I diverged as he finalized the restaurant version with the sauce above and I made something up at home as you see below.
(measurements are estimates)
- Orange juice (approximately 1/4c)
- Sambal (to taste, 1t-1T)
- pinch Allspice
- Butter (to taste, 1T-2T)
Over a medium flame, heat orange juice and sambal with a pinch of allspice
When it’s bubbling remove from the heat
and thickened up with some butter
Serve immediately with Bulgogi Ravioli
- 1/2c rice wine vinegar
- 1/2c sugar (white)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 thai chiles (or 3T Korean chili flakes if you don't have fresh chiles)
- mix vinegar and sugar together until the sugar dissolves
- add garlic and minced chiles, mix well.
- This sauce can be served immediately.
- But if you are using dried chiles, it is best left to rest overnight in a non-reactive container. The dried chile flakes will rehydrate and produce a thicker and tastier dipping sauce.
This recipe should be adjusted to your tastes. Add more chiles if you want more kick, or use dried chile flakes if you don't have fresh chiles.
Just remember it's better to use less chili and add more after 30 minutes when the flavour meld together, if it still needs more.
Big thanks to Matt sharing this recipe!
Learn More About Chef Matt Basile
Note: this post is part of my Canadian Beef Brand Ambassador series. For more information on my relationship with Canada Beef Inc read about my Foodie Adventure: I’m a Canadian Beef Brand Ambassador. #LoveCdnBeefand my disclosure statement