I can’t resist a good recipe when I come across one. I was browsing food sites a couple of days ago, saw a one-pot Chinese-style braised beef recipe at BBC Good Food and I immediately experienced an adrenalin rush. It looked so good. I checked the ingredients and, in my mind, I just knew that the dish would taste good too.
My only objection was that the recipe required the beef to be cooked slowly in the oven. We’re trying to cut down on LPG consumption as I’ve said in a couple of posts recently and cooking the meat in the oven would mean using too much gas.
My first instinct was to use the slow cooker but, on second thought, I wondered if that wouldn’t mean consuming a lot of electricity which is just as expensive as cooking with LPG. I debated whether the convenience of being able to leave the meat in the slow cooker overnight with no supervision could justify the power consumption. In the end, I decided to use the pressure cooker. One hour and five minutes were all it took and the beef cooked wonderfully with the fat literally melting in the mouth. The aroma was insanely gorgeous.
The original recipe uses five-spice powder, I had none, so I used the five spices that make up the five-spice powder — star anise, fennel seeds, cloves, cinnamon bark and Sichuan peppercorns. If you have five-spice powder, a teaspoonful will do.
This recipe calls for rice wine and what you see in the photo above was what I used. Feel free to use any other rice wine like sake or mirin. If you don’t have rice wine, some say that sherry is a passable substitute.
The following recipe is tailor-made for the pressure cooker. You can, of course, opt to cook this on the stove-top or in the oven. Cooking on the stove-top will require occasional stirring and the cooking time would be around two hours to two-and-a-half hours. If you prefer to cook the meat in the oven, you can refer to the instructions in the original recipe.
- 1 and ½ k. of stewing beef, cut into two-inch cubes (I used short ribs; face, crest, shank or shoulder blade will also be good)
- salt and pepper
- ¼ c. of flour
- 4 tbsps. of cooking oil
- ¼ c. of roughly chopped scallions (onion leaves)
- 1 tbsp. of minced garlic
- a generous knob of ginger, julienned
- 2 bird’s eye chilis, chopped
- 2 star anise
- 1 cinnamon bark
- ½ tsp. of fennel seeds
- ½ tsp. of Sichuan peppercorns
- 4 cloves
- a generous splash of rice wine
- 2 c. of beef broth
- 4 tbsps. of dark soy sauce
- 4 tbsps. of dark brown sugar
- salt, to taste
- finely sliced scallions, to garnish
- Place the beef in a single layer in a container with a tight lid. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Sprinkle the flour on the meat, cover the container tightly and shake to coat each piece of meat with flour.
- Alternatively, use a resealable plastic bag.
- Heat the cooking oil in the pressure cooker. Brown the beef in batches.
- When all the beef had been browned, it’s time to sauté the aromatics.
- Reheat the cooking oil in the pan and add the ginger, garlic, scallions, chilis, cinnamon bark, star anise, cloves, fennel seeds and Sichuan peppercorns (of the five-spice powder, if that’s what you’re using). Cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about two minutes.
- Pour in the rice wine.
- Scape the bottom of the pan to loosen the brown bits. Allow the rice wine to almost evaporate, about a minute.
- Return the browned beef to the pan. Pour in the broth and soy sauce. Add the sugar. Stir. Taste the sauce and add salt, as needed (I don’t recommend adding more soy sauce because that will make the dish too dark and rather unattractive).
- Seal the lid on the pressure cooker, wait for the valve to whistle, then turn down the heat to a simmer and cook for 60 to 65 minutes.
- Turn off the heat, wait for about ten minutes for the pressure to die down then remove the lid. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings, if needed.