I hadn’t necessarily thought this blog needed yet another recipe for red-cooked meat, but that was before I stumbled across a Sichuan version. This is, of course, out of Fuchsia Dunlop’s Land of Plenty, like all our recent Sichuan recipes. It’s a perfect thing to make at this time of year, with the rich beef and ginger scent filling the house while cold rain beats against the windows.
The recipe could be made with any stewing beef, but we have several packages of short ribs from our latest cow in the freezer and I hadn’t done anything with them yet. Following directions like a good girl, I blanched the ribs (apparently this keeps scum from forming in the final dish), then cut them into chunks.
Next I assembled my mise en place: bean paste, scallions, star anise, ginger, Sichuan pepper, a quart of chicken broth, rice wine and soy, and a cardamom pod, which was as close as I could come to cao guo on the spur of the moment (I think this is the same thing as black cardamom, but can’t tell from Dunlop’s description).
The exciting bit came after I had already put my pot to heat with some peanut oil and had gotten a spoon to add the Sichuan bean paste, which I bought a few months ago at Ping’s in Seattle and had just then opened. I stuck the spoon in, took a sniff, and realized that I had foolishly bought the wrong kind of bean paste. Instead of “Chili bean sauce” I had simply gotten “Bean sauce”. It smelled rather like baked beans with extra sugar. Oops. Thinking quickly (and desperately), I dumped three spoonfuls of the Sichuan baked beans into the pot, then added three spoonfuls of a prepared chile-garlic sauce. It smelled good and seemed to do the trick.
Despite my bean sauce mishap, this worked really well. Savory, spicy, a little sweet – the sauce was wonderful with rice and bitter greens, and the beef simply fell off the bone. And adding diced daikon near the end of cooking was remarkable – it soaked up the flavor of the sauce but retained a firm texture. Why do we not eat more daikon?
Red-Braised Beef with Daikon
Adapted from Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking by Fuchsia Dunlop
- 3 pounds short ribs or stewing beef
- 1″ piece of ginger, cut into a few thick slices
- 3 scallions, trimmed and cut into large pieces
- 3 Tbsp peanut oil
- 6 Tbsp Sichuan chile bean paste, or some combination of bean paste and chile-garlic sauce
- 1 quart stock (the recipe calls for beef, I used chicken)
- 4 Tbsp rice wine or sherry
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp whole Sichuan pepper
- 1 star anise
- 1 cao guo or cardamom pod
- 1 large daikon radish, diced
Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch the beef in it for a minute. Remove the beef and cut it into 1-2″ chunks.
Heat the oil in a large heavy pot and add the bean paste. Stir fry until the oil turns red and it smells great, then add the beef, ginger, scallions, stock, wine, soy and spices. Bring to a boil, then turn down and cover. Simmer for 2 hours or more, until the beef is tender. If a great deal of liquid remains in the pot, take off the lid and turn up the heat to reduce it. Add the daikon a bit before the end – maybe 15 minutes?
You can serve the beef immediately, or refrigerate it, take some of the fat off and reheat the next day.