How to Make: Wagyu Brisket Like a Pro

Wagyu beef is prized for intense marbling and succulent flavor.

Matt Ankeny and Jeremy Berger

Wagyu can refer to several breeds of cattle native to Japan, with meat prized for its intense marbling and succulent flavor. “For me it has the right balance and explores the whole mouth without being overly dominating at any point,” says Tom Hishon, the London-trained chef at Orphans Kitchen, one of Auckland’s most buzzed-about new restaurants on Ponsonby Road. The Wagyu served here comes from Hawke’s Bay several hours south, reflecting the restaurant’s commitment to New Zealand’s ingredients and flavors.

“This dish is a good example of the philosophy I hold towards produce and the seasons that change it,” says Hishon, “but I should mention that it’s quite technical, and takes three days to prepare.” Though sirloin and top round cuts are among the most prized from Wagyu cattle, Hishon prefers brisket, the part of a cow’s breast found outside the ribs. “Brisket is a cheaper, underutilized cut that becomes so much more with slower cooking techniques,” he notes, referring to the involved process of marinating the beef before steeping it in broth for over half a day.

Though his recipe as a whole is demanding (and not likely to become your weekday fallback), it’s a knockout, and presents a prime opportunity to buff up your culinary finesse — not to mention impress all your friends. From a culinary standpoint, it’s an example of a dish that any top-level chef would be proud to cook up, the harmonized result of something far more delicious than the sum of its parts.

Wagyu Brisket

With Buffalo Yogurt, Miso Eggplant and Pickled Vegetables

Note: The following dish was served on the summer 2015 menu at Orphans Kitchen. The recipe is courtesy of Tom Hishon and Josh helm. Units of temperature have been converted to Fahrenheit to render the recipe easiest to follow; all other units of measurement have been left in the metric system. Serves 8

Wagyu Brisket Brine

1 whole brisket (approx. 1.2kg, or 2.6 pounds)
100 grams freshly ground coffee
6L water
300 grams rock salt
200 grams coconut sugar

1. Dissolve sugar and salt in the water to make the brine. 2. Rub the whole brisket with the freshly ground coffee and submerge in the brine for 14-18 hours in the fridge.

Wagyu Stock

1 yellow onion, quartered
4 shallots, halved lengthways
3 carrots, halved lengthways
2 celery sticks
1 bottle of red wine, preferably merlot (burn off alcohol in pot before use)
4L beef stock
3 fresh bay leaves
1 sprig of rosemary
5 sprigs of thyme
3 star anise

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 2. Roast brown onion, shallots, carrot and celery sticks until they are golden brown. 3. Add roasted vegetables, and herbs to a pot with the beef stock and red wine. 4. Bring to simmer for 10-15 minutes to infuse the stock. 5. Remove brisket from the brine mixture, pat dry with cloth, and place the brisket fat side down in a deep oven tray. 6. Pour stock and vegetables over the brisket until covered and meat floats slightly. 7. Cover tray with tin foil and bake at 340°F (preferably in a gas oven) with no fan for 4 hours or until tender to the touch. 8. Remove from oven, and let cool for 1 hour. 9. Remove brisket and place fat side down on a flat tray with another flat tray over the top, like a sandwich. 10. Place a weight (approx. 6 pounds) on top of the tray, and put in the fridge until chilled (this will take approximately 6-8 hours). 11. Remove from fridge and slice brisket width ways to make slices that are approximately 1.5 inches thick, ready to be griddled.

Pickling Vegetables

500mL white vinegar
500mL water
300 grams coconut sugar
3 star anise
The peel of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1 bay leaf
1/2 red chili
10 baby onions, peeled
8 radishes, washed (keep 3 fresh for the final stages)
1 Lebanese cucumber (keep fresh until the final stages of plating)

1. Combine white vinegar, water, coconut sugar, star anise, lemon peel, yellow mustard seeds, bay leaf and red chili in a pot and bring to simmer for 2-3 minutes. 2. Take off the heat and set aside. 3. Sterilize a large glass jar, then place the radishes and baby onions inside. 4. Bring the pickling liquor to the boil, and pour over vegetables until they are covered. 5. Seal jar with a tight lid, and then place in the fridge overnight or at least one full day.

Buffalo Yogurt Emulsion

200 grams buffalo yogurt
Zest of half a lemon
1 tablespoon of honey mustard
4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
100mL water

1. In a bowl, add buffalo yogurt, lemon zest, water, honey mustard and mix together. 2. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to emulsify. 3. Set mix aside in fridge until plating time.

Black Garlic Puree

200 grams fermented black garlic
600mL of water
50 grams coconut sugar
0.5 gram xanthan gum

1. In a pot, add water, sugar and garlic. Bring to a simmer for 30 minutes, until garlic is tender. 2. Puree mix in a blender or food processor, along with the Xanthan gum, until mix is silky smooth. 3. Add a little extra water to loosen mix if need be.
4. Set aside until plating time.

Miso Eggplant

2 whole eggplants
30 grams white miso
30mL extra-virgin olive oil
100mL of boiling water

1. Over an open gas flame, blacken the whole eggplant on all sides until hot steam is hissing out. 2. Place eggplants in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, leave to cool for 30 minutes, take out and cut lengthways into quarters. 3. Peel the charred skin off and lie flat on a tray. 4. Whisk white miso, olive oil and hot water together to form a paste. 5. Heavily brush the skinless eggplants with the paste/emulsion to create the seasoning. 6. Cover with foil and set aside someplace warm to keep before serving.

Final Stages

Putting It All Together



1. Heat up a griddle plate, and take the portioned pieces of brisket and pat flaky sea salt into one side.
2. Place the brisket salted side down, onto the hot griddle until it has an even char and crust has established.
3. Place brisket in the oven on a tray for 7 minutes at 320°F.
4. Drain the pickled liquor and set aside the liquid.
5. Slice baby onions in half and lie flat on the griddle.
6. Blacken the one side and remove from heat.
7. Segment parts of the baby onion to make small cups.
8. Thinly slice pickled radishes, fresh cucumber and slice the 3 fresh radishes lengthways into eighths.
9. Dress the radishes and Lebanese cucumber in the leftover pickling liquor.


1. Smear the black garlic puree liberally onto the plate to form the base.
2. Place a piece of the brisket in the centre of the plate, charred side facing up.
3. Lay a piece of the quartered, warm eggplant beside the brisket. Take 5-6 burnt, pickled baby onion cups and arrange loosely around the beef.
4. Spoon the buffalo yogurt emulsion into the cups and a little onto the plate too.
5. Lay down 6-7 pieces of sliced radish per plate and 5 pieces of the cucumber.
6. Finish with a healthy drizzle of olive oil and a crack of black pepper.

Ideal Wine Pairing

“If you really want to go full noise with this dish, the black garlic puree goes well with a negromaro wine from Puglia, Italy,” says Hishon. Negroamaro grapes are endemic to the southern end of Italy; most can be traced to Salento in Apulia (Italian: Puglia), a region commonly dubbed the “heel” of the Italian boot. “Though most other reds draw on the bitter characteristics [of black garlic], I find the soft, stewed fruit notes of a negromaro heighten the berry tones,” says Hishon. Wines produced from this grape are known for their deep, rustic color, medium-to-full tannins and smoky fruit flavors of prune and blueberry. Hishon and Helm serve Negroamaro from La Corte winery at Orphans Kitchen. The wine is also produced domestically in the United States, notably by the Montoliva winery of Grass Valley, California.

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