I love cooking like this—simple, feel-good meals. Take a basic protein, some water, a few key seasonings and make something (great) out of almost nothing. Here is a Taiwanese favorite from my wife’s family.
Normally this type of beef braised in soy sauce is used to make hong shao niu rou mian (beef noodle soup), but Teresa’s dad has been serving it over steamed white rice for years. I think it’s perfect that way… all of the concentrated beef and sauce flavor are kept intact, and the cooking broth tastes great over rice. The soup version is nothing to shake a stick at, though.
You won’t need much. Shank is a tough, unlovely cut of meat—shot through with fat and white sinew. It’s the perfect choice for this slow-cooking dish. White or clear rock sugar can be found at any Asian grocery, or you can substitute a few spoonfuls of regular white sugar, which is sweeter (though, I should warn, I have never tried that… I don’t mess with family recipes!) If you can score a nice piece of beef tendon, throw that in, too… it will add a layer of flavor and texture to the broth.
You’ll want to first bring the beef up to a rolling boil so that a thick layer of scum forms, which should be skimmed off and discarded.
After skimming and a couple of hours simmering in soy sauce, sugar and wine, you’ll have something really good.
The beef is incredibly tender—completely infused with the seasonings and broth. Fresh green onion is the perfect garnish.
Hong Shao Niu Rou (Chinese Braised Beef)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 5 pieces whole star anise
- 5 thin slices washed, unpeeled ginger
- 3 lbs beef shank, cut into 1″ cubes
- 1/2 lb beef tendon (optional)
- 3/4 cup rice cooking wine
- 1/2 cup dark soy sauce
- 12-15 pieces white rock sugar cubes
- 1 green onion for garnish, sliced at 45 degrees
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot, on high heat, until almost smoking.
- Add ginger slices and star anise. Cook for 20 seconds or so, until golden.
- Add the beef shank cubes. Cook until the meat is browned on all sides. If using the beef tendon, add that last.
- Add the rice wine and 3.5 cups of cold water, to cover the meat. Bring to a full boil, then turn down to a strong simmer. Skim off any scum that appears on the top of the liquid.
- Reduce the liquid at a strong simmer, uncovered, until liquid is well below tops of beef cubes.
- Add the rock sugar, soy sauce and about 1 cup of water to just cover the meat.
- Turn down the heat and gently simmer for 2 hours or until meat is very tender. Add water as needed to keep the meat just covered.
- After the meat is very tender, adjust soy sauce or sugar for taste. Serve over steamed white rice, garnished with sliced green onion.
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