I love Asian cuisines. They can use complex flavors and spices or it can be a “simple” as nothing but a piece of raw fish. I have dabbled in the world of Thai and Vietnamese and now I am beginning my journey in to Chinese cuisine.
For my birthday this year I purchased several cookbooks one of which was Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees. This is a fantastic cookbook for anyone interested in leaning Chinese cooking.
Knowing that I wanted to start focusing on beef as one of my main meat proteins I started digging through his cook book looking at any recipes that used beef. One of which was Red-Cooked Beef.
One thing Kian Lam Kho explains in the beginning of the cookbook is that names of Chinese dishes aren’t literal. They are words that paint a picture, tell a story, or invoke an image. For this particular recipe he talks about how there is no Chinese work for the color brown. To deal with this they use other words and in a round about way thy invoke an image of brown.
Red-cooked is essentially braising. This is when you cook your meat at a low temperature for a long period of time in liquid. Then to finish this dish he has you add a couple vegetables and cook a little longer then garnish with some fresh cilantro and green onion.
What intrigued me about this recipe was that it had you take ordinary beef broth and transform it into an amazing sauce with distinct Asian flavors, using things like tangerine peel, star anise, cassia bark, Sichuan peppercorns, fennel seeds, and dried chilies.
He also has you add Shaoxing cooking wine, two types of soy sauce, and ginger to the beef stock. Adding to the list of simple but important tricks was he has you also boil the stew beef in plain water for 10 minutes constantly skimming off the scum. This results in a very clean beef flavor and help kick off the cooking process. Best of all this allows your final sauce or stock to come out with an amazingly clean and clear color.
At the end of the 2 hours of slow cooking the beef (which could be done in slow cooker) he has you add Daikon radish and carrot. Since I am not a huge fan of big chunks of veggies I went a head and julienned them.
Because we were going to have this as a stand alone dish I chose to leave it fairly wet but he also talks about being able to cook this down further to make a sauce. I then poured it over some pain rice and sprinkled on the green onion and cilantro.
One last thing that was interesting about this dish was not only was it actually VERY easy to make but not being a fan of cilantro I was surprised how well the flavor worked in this dish and actually didn’t mind it. This is definitely a great start into this cookbook and can’t wait to try more of his recipes!