Just about every Asian country has a version of this dish. Most use the same spices to flavour the braising liquid and the end result is subsequently similar in taste and appearance.
This is a Chinese version, using many and very different spices. It is a very simple dish, simply place all ingredients in a pot and let it braise away for a period of time, perfect for those people who love on pot wonders.
This recipe calls for beef, I have used the strap off of a sirloin, the bit that most people throw away. This bit of the muscle has lots of connective tissues, full of gelatin and as it cooks down, that gelatin adds flavour and gives the stock a little body, giving it that, sticky, wonderful gelatinous texture to the sauce.
Pork is absolutely perfect for this recipe, especially pork hocks and knuckles. This piece of meat has double the gelatin and flavour is superb. You can really use just about any cut of meat, just stay away from primal cuts, secondary cuts are the best and doesn’t dry out in the long, slow cooking process.
Red Braise Beef with Red Dates
For the Braised Beef:
1.5 Kg Beef Sirloin Strap – cut into 3cm cubes
6 Star Anise
4 Cinnamon Sticks
5 Pieces of Liquorice Root
¼ Cup Dried Mandarin Peel
400 Gr Rock Sugar
½ Bunch Spring Onion – cut into 5cm long batons
¼ Cup Ginger – roughly sliced into thin pieces
2 Cups Water
1 Cup Shaoxing (Chinese Cooking Wine)
1 Cup Light Soy
½ Cup Dark Soy
1 Cup Chinese Red Dates (jujubes)
For the Jasmine Rice:
2 Cups Jasmine Rice
2 Cups Boiling Water
For the Spring Onion Curls:
!/2 Bunch Spring Onion Greens – slice into long strips, in ice water
For the braised beef
- Place about 2 liters of water on to boil.
- Once the water is boiled, blanch the beef in boiling water for about 5 minutes to get rid of impurities then drain in a chinois
- In a 5 liter pot, place the star anise, cinnamon sticks, liquorice root, dried mandarin, rock sugar, spring onion, ginger, water, shaoxing, light soy and dark soy in the pot and bring to boil then simmer for 20 minutes
- Add the blanched beef to the pot and cook for a further hour on really low.
- Add the red dates and cook for a further half hour
- Taste for balance (not too salty) if it is a little strong in flavour, add a little water
- Serve in a pot and garnish with spring onion curls
For the Jasmine Rice
- Place the rice into a 2 liter pot and wash several times with cold until the water is remains clear as opposed to “milky” appearance
- Totally strain the rice with the rice still in the pot
- Add the boiling water, cover with alfoil (tin foil) sealing the edges so no heat escapes
- Turn on the lowest heat and cook for exactly 12 minutes with out “peeking” into the pot
Photo by Jun Pang
Shaoxing Wine – Fermented from rice. Originated from Shoaxing, in Eastern China. Used mainly in cooking.
Liquorice Root – is the root of a herbaceous perennial plant known it’s botanic name Glycyrrhiza glbra. It’s not from the aniseed family how ever it does impart a flavour similar to aniseed and is used in perfect combination with star anise. Regarded by the Chinese as one of the healing herbs which provide energy.
Red Dates – commonly used in Chinese cooking and other Asian cuisines. Also known in the Western world as Jujubes, it comes from the Ziziphus plant. Also regarded by the Chinese as part of the healing herbs which is good for blood and a muscle relaxant.
Rock Sugar – are large sugar crystals made form a saturated solution, heated and allowed allowed to crystallize, forming these crystals. Usually amber in colour and it is also known as Rock Candy