What Is Beef Suet?

published Jan 22, 2010
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(Image credit: Kathryn Hill)

Last week I wrote about a delicious Japanese hotpot called sukiyaki, which requires a block of beef suet to oil the pan before cooking the meat and vegetables. Most people understand that suet is beef fat, but what exactly is it, and what do you do with it?

Suet is raw beef fat from around the joints and kidneys that has a low melting point. You can get suet from just about any butcher. I got a pound from Whole Foods for free, and I like to cut them in 1-inch cubes and wrap them individually in foil and store them all in a large Ziploc bag. I mostly use them for sukiyaki, but there are other uses for suet. It can keep in the refrigerator for a few days. All blood, connective tissue, and non-fat items should be removed. Many recipes involving suet call for it to be coarsely grated. It’s been documented in cookbooks going back to the year 1617.

In the old days, suet was often rendered into tallow to make soap. Suet is also the primary ingredient in English Christmas pudding, and other steamed puddings such as steak & kidney pudding. It is used in mincemeat as well. Other foods that suet is commonly found in are:

• Haggis
• Windsor pudding
• Dumplings
• Spotted dick
• Kishka/Kishke
• Chili con carne
• Rag Pudding
• Jamaican patty

As a non-human comestible, it is commonly used as a wild bird food.