Fragrant braised beef tendons

Fragrant braised beef tendons

The Real Food of China
Leanne Kitchen

OK squeamish types, close your eyes and think ‘texture’. Tendons, which are essentially pure cartilage, have the ability to suck in the flavours of the aromatic ingredients they’re cooked with, as well as impart their own distinctive beefy savour to a dish. We personally love their unctuous qualities; when cooked, they’re jelly-like, soft and rich. Rather like fat, really, but without the fat — in fact, we think they’re the ‘new pork belly’. You heard it here first, folks.


Quantity Ingredient
1kg beef tendons
1 teaspoon sichuan peppercorns
60ml vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cm piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 red chillies, finely sliced
1 tablespoon sichuan chilli bean paste
1 1/2 tablespoons shaoxing rice wine
1 1/2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 spring onions, finely sliced
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 small handful coriander leaves, to serve
1 small handful watercress sprigs, to serve


  1. Put the beef tendons in a large saucepan, add 2 litres water (or enough water to cover) and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3–3½ hours, or until the beef is tender, topping up the water as required. Drain the tendons, leave to cool, then cut into slices about 4 cm long.
  2. Dry-roast the peppercorns in a small, heavy-based frying pan over a medium–low heat, shaking the pan often, for 3–4 minutes, or until fragrant. Cool, then transfer to a mortar (or an electric spice grinder) and pound with the pestle to form a coarse powder. Set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a large wok over a high heat, add the garlic, ginger and chillies and stir-fry for 1–2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the beef tendons, ground peppercorns and chilli bean paste and stir to combine, then add the rice wine, soy sauce and spring onions and stir-fry for 2–3 minutes, or until well combined and heated through. Season with sea salt and pepper. Transfer to a platter, scatter over the coriander leaves and watercress and serve.
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