SHIKABUSHI (SMOKED & DRIED VENISON HEART)


Shikabushi Dried and Smoked Venison Heart
Photo by Larry White

While working on some new recipe ideas for venison hearts last week, I was slurping on a hot bowl of delicious homemade dashi as it was freezing cold outside.


Stumped and frustrated that I couldn’t come up with a new way to utilize this delicious offal goodness, I poured myself another bowl of dashi and slumped into my chair. Then it hit me! Why couldn’t I turn a deers heart into its own form of katsuobushi?


In case you don’t know, katsuobushi is traditionally make with skipjack tuna and is one of the main components in a Japanese dashi. Dashi is essentially the foundation of making a good ramen.


As for preparing this with venison, it would have to be in the Arabushi form of katsuobushi which is dried and smoked. The other type, “Karebushi” introduces mold for flavor enhancements, but I know that’s not in most people’s interest.


The recipe couldn’t be more straight forward and is super easy, and what you’re left with is a smoky venison umami bomb.


You simply do a quick dry cure on the venison heart, then a low and slow smoke. After that dehydrate and you’re done. The heart will be very firm which is perfect for finely grating into your favorite foods.


This shikabushi is excellent grated into soups or a pot of chili for a smoky umami punch. It can also be grated into mayonnaise based food such as aioli, deviled eggs, pimento cheese and potato salad. Just use your imagination and try it on different foods that you'd like to have some rich smokiness. I'm thinking about grating of pizza next.



Ingredients

  • 1 venison heart (cleaned and filleted flat)

  • 3 cups sugar

  • 1 1/2 cups kosher salt

  • 3 sprigs of rosemary (chopped)

  • 1 teaspoon juniper berries (crushed)


Special Equipment

  • smoker

  • dehydrator

  • microplane or fine cheese grater (for grating the heart)


Directions

  1. In a large bowl add in all of your ingredients except the heart. Mix to combine.

  2. Ensure that your heart is thoroughly trimmed and that no fat remains. The heart should be filleted so that it lays in one flat piece.

  3. In a narrow medium sized container, pour in half of the salt and sugar mixture. Place the heart in the container. Pour the remaining mixture over top. The heart should be fully covered. If not, transfer it into a smaller container or make a half batch of the dry cure.

  4. Cover and refrigerate for 12-14 hours. Remove the heart from the cure and rinse the heart with cold water. Dry the heart off with paper-towels. Discard the cure.

  5. Smoke the heart at the lowest temperature that you possibly can while maintaining a good smoke. Ideally you want to smoke it between 150-180 degrees. Smoke until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees.

  6. Transfer the smoked heart to a dehydrator set at 150 degrees. Dry the venison heart for 24 hours. It should be very heart to the touch and not pliable at all.


Photo by Larry White