Miso-Glazed Beef in Lettuce Cups
2 ½ tablespoons sake
2 ½ tablespoons mirin
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
1/3 cup shiro miso
12 ounces beef tenderloin or tenderloin tips
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces asparagus or green beans
¾ cup watercress leaves
12 shiso leaves, torn if large
1 6-inch piece daikon
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 ½ teaspoons dark soy sauce
¼ cup peanut or vegetable oil
1/8 teaspoon sesame oi
l tiny pinch of salt
12 butter lettuce leaves, for cups
To make the marinade, combine the sake, mirin, and sugar in a small pot and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, add the miso, and stir until it is well mixed in. Cut the meat into 6 cubes or rectangles. Season with salt and pepper, and coat it well with the marinade. Marinate 2 to 4 hours in the refrigerator.
To prepare the asparagus for the salad, snap off the ends of the spears where they break naturally. Cook the asparagus by blanching or grilling it until just barely done: 1 or 2 minutes for blanching 2 to 4 minutes in the grill, depending on how fat the spears. Cut into bite-size pieces. Mix the watercress, asparagus, and shiso together in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. Peel the daikon, then shred it into long thin strips with the peeler. Put the daikon in the separate bowl and set it aside, too.
To make the vinaigrette, combine the vinegar and the sugar in a small pot. Heat and stir just until the sugar has dissolved. Put this in a blender along with the soy sauce, peanut oil, sesame oil and salt; blend until will emulsified. Set aside until needed. Over a hot fire, grill the meat about 2 minutes per side for rare, a little longer if you prefer. Baste with the marinade as you go, and rotate the meat a quarter turn halfway through cooking on each side to get nice crosshatch grill marks.
To serve, cut the beef into bite-sized slices. Whisk the vinaigrette if it has separated, and dress the asparagus mixture with just enough of it to moisten. Use a light hand with the vinaigrette, or the vegetables will wilt really fast. Place a shiso leaf in each butter lettuce cup, then top with a small amount of the asparagus mixture, some daikon and some sliced beef. Sprinkle and remaining vegetables about or place in a pile in the center of platter for guests to help themselves. Finish with a little drizzle of vinaigrette over the cups and serve the remaining vinaigrette in the side for dipping or spooning.