Thursday, April 8, 2010

Red-braised beef with white radish (hong shao niu rou)

We appearing to be having a last spate of winter weather here in Boston, so it seems like a good time to write about this warming Chinese beef stew. As I was making it, I couldn't help but notice how similar it was to an American pot roast. In place of oregano and bay leaf, the aromatics are star anise and Sichuan pepper. And rather than carrots, daikon radish or kohlrabi is added in the last minutes of cooking, contributing delightful crunch. Of course, with a base of Sichuanese chilli bean paste, this pot roast is decidedly hotter than normal.

Adapted from Land of Plenty:

1. Cut the beef into 1- to 2-inch chunks and salt them. Crush a 1- to 2-inch piece of unpeeled ginger with the side of a chef's knife. Cut 2 scallions into 2 or 3 sections.

2. Heat a bit of oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add 6 T. chilli bean paste, stir-fry 30 seconds, and add the beef. Add 1 quart beef stock, 4 T. Shaoxing cooking wine, the ginger and scallions, 2 tsp. dark soy sauce, 1 tsp. whole Sichuan pepper, and 1 star anise. Bring the liquid to a boil, skim if necessary, then simmer gently on low until the beef is tender, about 2 hours.

3. When the beef is nearly ready, trim a daikon radish or kohlrabi and chop it into chunks to match the beef. Add them to the pot and simmer until they are just tender. Salt if needed and serve garnished with fresh cilantro.

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