Miso and wasabi pie (beef or mushroom)

My husband’s whole face lights up at the mere mention of pie, but unfortunately his favourite soured cream pastry is far from dairy free. Consequently, it makes me feel rather unwell so he rarely gets the pies that he so loves.  As he’s been suffering with a nasty cold the last few weeks I was looking for extra nice things I could do for him to cheer him up, and a pie that we could share and enjoy together met with enthusiastic approval. Although suet pastry is more commonly used for steamed puddings it also works well in baked pies, and gets rid of the need to use butter, as well as being easier to make and more robust than most pastries. Beef pie is probably his all time favourite so he wanted me to stick to that, but I wanted to give it a bit of a twist so I added in another flavour he loves – wasabi.  As a close relation to horseradish, it seems like a natural pairing for beef.  It also adds a fiery edge to cut through chilly, damp weather or perk you up when you’re feeling unwell and sorry for yourself.  While I was on a Japanese theme, I also threw in some miso to give the gravy a rich, savoury taste, rather than stock.  Given I made him beef pie one weekend, he didn’t mind when I made a vegan version with mushroom and aubergine the next weekend.  That one was my favourite as it was a little lighter but still full of lovely robust flavours and a crispy pastry top.  The cooking time looks quite long, but if you make the pastry and filling ahead of time it is very easy to assemble on the night and doesn’t need any “babysitting” while cooking.

Beef, wasabi and miso pie

Cooking time: 30-40 minutes preparation, 5 minutes preparation on the night and 30-60 minutes cooking time (depending on whether you use pastry on the top and bottom or not)

Serves: 4

Dietary info: dairy free (see “some tasty little twists” for the vegan mushroom version)

Miso, wasabi and suet pastry

  • 180g suet (vegetarian or beef – if you have a good butcher nearby you can ask them to get a chunk of beef suet for you. If you do this, freeze the suet and grate it.  If you are making the vegan version, obviously use vegetarian suet, not beef!)
  • 60g wholemeal flour
  • 70g spelt flour (you can replace this with white or wholemeal flour if you prefer)
  • 70g white flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2-4 tsp wasabi powder (If you can’t get wasabi powder, then add 1 tsp wasabi paste to the miso soup)
  • 1 sachet miso soup (or 1 tbsp miso paste) made up to 150ml liquid with warm water and cooled in the fridge (if it is too hot it will melt the suet)
  • 1-2 tbsp soy or unsweetened almond milk to glaze

Beef pie filling

  • 500g diced beef
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1 packet shittake mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • Water (about 300ml)
  • 1-2 tbsp wasabi paste (depending on how much you like wasabi)
  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • Juice of ½ a lime
  • Extra wasabi paste to serve (optional)
  1. Put the sliced onions into a non-stick frying pan or large saucepan with just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan and stop them sticking.  Cook over a gentle heat until they are starting to soften.
  2. Add the beef and turn up the temperature, stirring until the beef is a little browned on all sides.
  3. Stir in the mushrooms, wasabi, miso, ginger, garlic, and cornflour and mix so that the cornflour is evenly distributed (not lumpy), then add the water (about enough to come 1/2 was up the solids.
  4. Cover and simmer for 30-35 minutes, until the beef is tender and the sauce is rich and thick, then stir in the lime and season with salt and more lime to taste.  Separate the solids from most of the liquid: I find the easiest way is to spoon out the solids with a slotted spoon, and keep both.
  5. Mix together the suet, flours, salt and wasabi powder (if using powder rather than paste) then gradually add the miso liquid, stirring.  Don’t add the liquid too fast as it can rapidly become saturated.  If the dough is too dry then add a little more water.  Don’t do the mixing in a blender as this will chop the suet too fine and the pastry will not have the characteristic flakiness of suet pastry.
  6. Once you have a firm dough (not crumbly, but not sticky), knead it gently for a minute or two then form it into a ball, wrap it in clingfilm and put it in the fridge to chill.
  7. To avoid the dreaded “soggy bottom”, blind bake your pastry:
    1. Preheat your oven to 160C fan.
    2. Roll out 2/3rds of the pastry to the shape of your pie dish (I used a dish ~25cm x 15cm oval), but a bit bigger, and use it to line the pie dish.
    3. Scrunch up some greaseproof baking paper that is roughly the same size as your pastry and put it on top of the pastry in your pie dish and cover it with baking beads or dried pulses (see picture) – this helps to stop pastry puffing up too much when blind baking.
    4. Bake for 10 minutes with beads / beans, then remove the greaseproof paper and beads / beans and bake for a further 10-12 minutes until the pastry is dry rather than soggy.
    5. If you’re in a hurry you can skip this step but the pastry at the bottom of the pie will be more damp and gooey. Alternatively, you can make the pie lighter by just topping it with ½  of the pastry(rather than putting any on the bottom at all)  and freezing the rest for another time (I did suggest this to my husband but it initially met with disapproval!).
  8. Fill your baked pastry case with the filling (or just put the filling straight into your pie dish if you are only topping your pie with pastry), roll out the remaining 1/3 pastry (or 1/2 the pastry if you are topping only) to the same size and shape as your pie dish and place this over the filling, trim the edges and make a few holes in the top with a knife, fork or skewer to let the steam out.  Then brush with the soy or almond milk.
  9.  Bake for 35-40 minutes at 160C fan until the top is golden brown and crispy.  Serve with the liquid that you separated from the solids as a gravy, extra wasabi if you are a wasabi fan and some steamed vegetables.

A few tips to prep ahead:

  • Make the pastry and keep in the fridge for up to a week wrapped in clingfilm.  It also freezes well so it is often worth making extra quantities and freezing some for a quick and easy pie in the future.
  • Make the filling and keep the separated solids and liquid in sealable boxes in the fridge for a few days.  This can help the flavours developed, and it is better for the pastry if everything is cold when you assemble the pie as it helps stop the pastry collapsing as the dough starts to solidify before the fat melts.
  • Then all you need to do on the night is roll out the pastry, blind bake (if you are doing this step), assemble with the filling and bake.

Some tasty little twists….

For a vegan version make the pastry with vegetarian suet and follow the recipe above for assembling the pie, but fill with this mushroom mix instead of the beef:

Miso and wasabi mushroom filling:

  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 750g mixed mushrooms (I used closed cup and chestnut), thickly sliced
  • 1 aubergine
  • ~60g calvo nero or Savoy cabbage, sliced
  • Water (about 300ml)
  • 1-2 tbsp wasabi paste (depending on how much you like wasabi)
  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • Juice of 1 a lime
  • 1/2 tsp sugar or sweetener (optional, to taste)
  • 1 tsp salt (optional, to taste)
  1. Put the sliced onions into a non-stick frying pan or large saucepan with just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan and stop them sticking.  Cook over a gentle heat until they are starting to soften.
  2. Add the mushrooms and enough water to come 1/3 up the mushrooms and simmer, covered, for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms are starting to soften.
  3. Stir in the aubergine, calvo nero or cabbage, wasabi, miso, ginger, garlic, and cornflour and mix so that the cornflour is evenly distributed (not lumpy). 
  4. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and the sauce is rich and thick, then stir in the lime and season with the salt, sugar and more lime to taste.  Separate the solids from most of the liquid (as for the beef, I find the easiest way is to spoon out the solids with a slotted spoon) and keep both.
  5. Use to fill the pie as above – I like just topping the pie with pastry as it saves time (no blind baking), makes it a bit lighter and means you have another portion of pastry left over to make a quick dinner another day.

Both the beef and mushroom fillings also make nice stews on their own if you don’t want to make the pastry or want a lower fat option.

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