Slow-cooked beef brisket with berries

Slow-cooked beef brisket with berries

Qing dun niu rou

By
From
Every Grain of Rice
Photographer
Chris Terry

One of my favourite Chinese soups is a speciality of Chongqing: a rich, nourishing oxtail broth, cooked for many hours, then served with a beautiful scattering of scarlet gouqi berries and a handful of fresh coriander. The same method can be used to cook beef and it works perfectly with brisket, one of those nostalgic cuts of meat that I adored as a child. In the original recipe, a whole chicken is used to enrich and elevate the flavour of the beef, but stewing the meat in a rich chicken stock works well.

If you want to be Chinese about it, serve the beef in the soup, either in the cooking pot or in a china bowl; invite your guests to help themselves to pieces of meat with chopsticks or a serving spoon, dip them into the chilli sauce before eating, and then drink a bowl of soup. You may also remove the meat from the soup before serving and serve it on a separate platter, alongside the dip and the soup.

Asian white radish is a classic and most delicious addition. Simply peel the radish, cut into finger-thick strips, boil for a few minutes until tender (and to remove any pepperiness), then add it to the beef and simmer for a few minutes to absorb the flavours of the broth. You can also add other vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots or celery, which don’t require blanching.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
750g beef brisket
50g ginger, unpeeled
1.25 litres good-quality chicken stock
75ml shaoxing wine
1 teaspoon sichuan pepper
2 tablespoons gouqi berries, rinsed
handful coriander, chopped, (optional)

For the dip

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon cooking oil
4 tablespoons sichuan chilli bean paste
2 teaspoons ginger, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Method

  1. Bring a panful of water to a boil. Untie the brisket, add it to the water, return to a boil, then boil for three to four minutes to allow any impurities to rise to the surface. Pour away the water and rinse the beef thoroughly under the tap. Crush the ginger slightly with the flat of a cleaver blade or rolling pin.
  2. Place the brisket in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or a casserole pot, cover with the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Skim. Add the Shaoxing wine, ginger and Sichuan pepper and return to a boil. Then cover and simmer over a very low heat or in a gentle oven (preheated to 150°C) for at least three hours (some recipes suggest more than five), until the brisket is meltingly tender.
  3. To make the dip, add the oil to a seasoned wok over a medium flame. Swirl it around, add the chilli bean paste and stir-fry until the oil is red and smells delicious. Add the ginger and stir-fry a little longer until you can smell its fragrance. Off the heat, stir in the sesame oil, then transfer the mixture to a small dipping dish.
  4. Ten minutes or so before you are ready to eat, strain out and discard the ginger and Sichuan pepper, using a slotted spoon or tea strainer. Remove the meat from the pot to a chopping board and cut it into finger-thick strips. Return it to the pot with the gouqi berries for 10 minutes more.
  5. Serve in the cooking pot or a deep china bowl, with a scattering of fresh coriander, if you like. Serve the dip alongside.
Tags:
Chinese
Sichuanese
Asian
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