Braised Beef was a favorite food of mine as a child. After I left college, I lived in a foreign country for a long time. Every time I returned home, my mother always remembered to soothe my stomach, taste buds and soul by once again cooking my favorite pot of beef.
After I entered the workforce, I wanted to be able to faithfully replicate my mother’s delicious food in my new environment. Unfortunately, my attempts were always unsatisfactory. The taste was dry, too smoky and I could never re-create the wonderful strong aromas.
After many failed attempts, I wondered if the beef I was using was not the right cut. In the past, I always bought beef that was Silverside, a cut from the hind quarter of the cow.
Most people eat it whole, but preparing the beef that way is not the most appetizing. The upper loin, or top loin, while still relatively tender, can also be cooked with similar simmering methods as Silverside, however, it too will inevitably become dry and hard.
Simmering both these beef cuts can produce meat the consistency of chewing wax. Like pork, you can never use stewed pork feet in a recipe for roast pork loin.
The best cut to make braised beef is naturally burdock. What exactly is a burdock cut? Many recipes are ambiguous. After doing some culinary research, however, I determined that this specific beef cut is the calf muscle of a cow. The more common name of this cut is Beef Shank.
After many more attempts, I finally replicated my mother’s delicious food in my own kitchen! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
In hopes of sharing this wonderful dish with others, below is her Braised Beef recipe and a few tips.
- 5kg Beef Shank
- 1 piece, Grass Fruit
- 1 Whole Nutmeg
- 6 Bay Leaves
- 1g Sichuan Pepper
- 4 Whole Dried Chilies
- 5 Star Anise
- 20g Ginger
- 20g Scallions
- 5g Cumin
- 10g Brown Sugar
- 130g Dark Soy Sauce
- 50g Cooking Wine
Bring 3kg of water to a boil. Place the beef into the boiling water. Boil the beef for 3 minutes. Remove beef from boiling water and wash away any blood gathered on both sides of the cut meat. Note: If you are using a whole beef shank instead of sliced shank, you can boil the whole sirloin without cutting it. The purpose of boiling the meat is to eliminate the blood froth and prepare it for the remaining steps.
Combine the grass fruit, nutmeg, bay leaves, Sichuan pepper, dried chilies, star anise, ginger, scallions, cumin, and brown sugar into a 20 cm deep pot. Add about 15 grams of vegetable oil. Heat and stir just until the spices become fragrant. This process is very important, as you want the aroma to be subtle and not over-powering.
Add 200 grams of boiling water to the pot. Stirring thoroughly but gently, combine the beef with the boiling water and spice mixture.
Add an additional 450 grams of boiling water to mostly, but not fully, submerge the beef. As with other meats, beef must be given special attention when it comes to adding water. Do not add too much water. Otherwise, the dilution of the broth will result in insufficient seasoning, and the meat will lose its flavor.
Add the dark soy sauce and cooking wine to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil. Now that all ingredients are combined, waiting patiently for the braising process to be complete is the last step. It is worth the wait!
Cover the pot tightly with a lid. Lower the heat and simmer for 1.5to 2 hours.
- The stewing duration depends on the individual’s taste preferences. If you prefer to a heartier, chewier beef, stew the beef for 1.5 hours. If you prefer a more tender, softer beef, stew for the full 2 hours.
Remember – if the beef is stewed too long, the beef will fall apart, and many of the meat’s individual flavors will be lost in the marinade. The taste of the beef itself will also be degraded.
- The Braised Beef may be left in the marinade overnight and refrigerated. To serve, heat the stew again then remove the beef. Once cooled, it may be sliced and served.
- Braised Beef can be served with any sauce you like. One recipe for a sauce commonly used at home is:
- 40g LightSoy Sauce
- 10g Zhenjiang Balsamic Vinegar
- 2g Sesame Oil
- Chopped Shallots(Parsley or Garlic can be used as well)
Combine all ingredients, shake and serve.