Have you ever heard of tofu “bamboo”? How about dried shrimp? I hadn’t either. This is one of the many aspects I love about cooking asian dishes. I put together my grocery list from the recipes I selected and then head off the the Asian Food Store. There I wonder through the isles looking at all of these new and different ingredients. Half I can’t even read the label and a large amount have no label! Thankfully after many trips to this store the owner recognizes us and happily takes us from item to item. The result? Delicious, interesting, authentic, and exciting tastes, textures, and flavor.
For this last weekend I had picked Red Braised Beef with Tofu “bamboo” and Stir-fried Greens with Dried Shrimp from Fuchsia Dunlop’s cookbook Every Grain of Rice. Both of these were amazingly delicious. They offered varied texture and flavor. The beef was rich and had a little kick to it and the tofu “bamboo” was a great contrast and offered a nice chew, kind of like pasta.
Red-Braised Beef with Tofu “Bamboo”
- 1 pound Stew Beef, in bite sized pieces
- 2 tablespoons Grapeseed or other neutral cooking oil
- 2 ½ tablespoons Sichuan Chili Bean Paste
- 25 grams Ginger, single piece, peeled and slightly smashed
- Green Onion, sliced
- 1 Star Anise
- 1 ½ teaspoons Sweet Fermented Sauce
- 24 ounces Chicken Stock
- 3 tablespoons Shaoxing Wine
- 150 grams Tofu “Bamboo” or Dried Bean Curd Knots
To start you need to parboil the beef. This is primarily to get red of the scum to give you a cleaner beef flavor. Add your beef to a pot and cover with water. Bring to a full rolling boil and skim off the scum as it rises to the surface. Once the scum has subsided drain the beef and set aside.
Either in the same pot you cooked the beef or in a new clean pot warm the oil over medium heat. Add the chili bean paste, smashed ginger, sweet fermented sauce and the green onions. Stir until fragrant. Add the stock and the star anise. Stir, scraping up as much of the brown bits from the bottom of the pan as you can.
Add the beef and the cooking wine. Stir to make sure the beef is fully coated and submerged as much as possible. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 2 hours. Meanwhile, put the bean curd knots in a bowl and cover with hot water. Place a small plate on them to keep them submerged in the water. Once the beef is done drain the bean curd knots and add to the beef. Stir to get them fully mixed in and then simmer uncovered for 20-30 minutes to slightly reduce and allow the knots to absorb some flavor.
Stir-Fried Greens with Dried Shrimp
I had to modify this recipe from the original to used the whole head of cabbage and the entire pack of dried shrimp. If I hadn’t I would have been left with ingredients with no other use and the shrimp don’t keep for long once opened. (If you have a hard time finding them in your asian market they are in the refrigerated section.)
- 1 Chinese Cabbage (also known as Napa Cabbage), cored and finely shredded
- 4 Green Onions, finely sliced
- 4 tablespoons Stir-Fry Oil or other neutral oil
- 1 package (98 grams) Dried Shrimp
- 2 tablespoons Light Soy Sauce
Heat your wok with the oil on high. Once the oil is hot add the shrimp and stir aggressively until they begin to crisp up. Add the cabbage and toss continuously until they begin to wilt. Add the green onion and toss until they brighten in color. Add the soy sauce and a pinch of salt and toss just until you can smell the soy sauce. Pour into a dish and serve!
I still had leftovers from the weekend before’s dinner so we also added the Stir Fried Mushrooms with Garlic as well as some of the Three Grain Steamed Rice.