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Whether you’re in China or the United States, a rich stew always pairs well with cold weather. This style of stew is especially popular in the northern provinces of China and makes a great addition to your banquet table for holidays and other celebrations that take place during the winter months.
When you check out the ingredient list below, you’ll notice that the recipe isn’t complicated at all. The secret ingredient is simply time, about 3 1/2 hours to be exact. It’s this time commitment that keeps red cooked dishes reserved for special occasions in this modern age. However, just as you might keep a pot of apple cider on your stove top during Christmas or Thanksgiving, you can set this stew to simmer around Chinese New Year and fill your entire home with a delicious aroma.
Make sure to select a fatty, well-marbled piece of stew meat for this recipe. If you’re shopping in Chinatown, tell the butcher you want beef for hong siew (red cooking) and he’ll find you something great with a lot of fat or tendon still attached.
You can cook this dish in a regular soup pot on your stove top, or in a slow cooker. In the latter case, use the “high” or 5-hour setting, as you want to maintain a pretty active simmer through the duration of your cook time. The last tip for me to offer is to make sure you cover your beef completely with water when you arrive at that step. If your beef isn’t entirely submerged, it may cook unevenly.
If you regularly make Western-style beef stews at home, then this red cooked beef will offer an interesting change of pace. The beef carries a rich, savory flavor which pairs really well with a dish of lightly stir fried vegetables like bok choy.
Here’s how to make red cooked beef, step-by-step. The detailed tutorial with pictures and directions is at the bottom of the page.
Your turn! What tips can you share from your family’s recipe? Want to ask a question before you start cooking? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!
Red Cooked Beef Recipe
Makes: 6-8 Servings | Prep Time: 10 Minutes | Cook Time: 3 1/2 Hours
1 tablespoon sugar
3 pounds stew beef
2 cloves garlic
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1 star anise pod
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1 cup light soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
3 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2-3 cups water
fresh cilantro to garnish
1. Caramelize the sugar by heating in a pot over low heat until it turns golden brown.
2. Add the beef and all other ingredients (except the cilantro leaves) and enough water to cover the beef, then bring to a boil over high heat.
3. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 3 1/2 hours until the beef is tender.
4. Remove the beef from the pot and reserve the sauce. Thinly slice the beef and arrange on a serving platter.
5. Reheat the reserved sauce over medium heat and simmer until it has reduced to about 1 cup. Remove from the heat and pour the hot sauce over the beef slices. Garnish with the cilantro leaves and serve hot with steamed rice.
Start by collecting your ingredients. You’ll notice this recipe has a short ingredient list, just a good piece of stew meat, soy sauce and a few spices.
Caramelize the sugar by heating it in a pot over low heat until it turns golden brown.
Add the beef, along with all the other ingredients except the cilantro leaves, to the pot.
Add enough water to cover the beef, then bring to a boil over high heat.
Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 3 1/2 hours until the beef is tender.
Here’s what the beef looks like after the full cook time. Notice the beautiful reddish hue of the broth!
Remove the beef from the pot and reserve the sauce. Thinly slice the beef and transfer to a serving platter.
Reheat the reserved sauce over medium heat and simmer until it has reduced to about 1 cup. Remove from the heat and pour the hot sauce over the beef slices. Garnish with the cilantro leaves and serve hot with steamed rice.
HT: Recipe adapted from Chinese Feasts & Festivals: A Cookbook.