One of life’s ultimate pleasures: Chinese-style beef tendon. Until recently, I only got to enjoy them from the dim sum cart of bigger Chinese restaurants. Then, I bought a tray of beef tendon from the grocery, tenderized the tendons in the slow cooker, cut the cooked and cooled tendons into bite-size pieces and arranged the pieces on small plates. A mixture of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, chili oil and sugar was poured over the gelatinous tendons. Snipped scallions and fried garlic were sprinkled on top before serving.
Although uncooked beef tendon is very inexpensive, I can understand why cooked tendon does not come cheap in Chinese restaurants. It takes about six hours of non-stop simmering to get the tendon to that stage of tenderness when it literally melts in the mouth. In the slow cooker, it’s ten hours on LOW or about eight hours on HIGH. It is only when the tendon has reached the sticky gelatinous stage that it can be fished out of the broth, cut into bite-size pieces to prepare the delectable morsels for the steamer and drizzled with sauce.
- Line the bottom of the slow cooker with non-stick paper.
- Arrange the beef tendons in the paper-lined pot. Pour in the soy sauce. Add the ginger, garlic, star anise and peppercorns. Pour in just enough water to cover.
- Cook the beef tendons on HIGH for about eight hours, or on LOW for about 12 hours.
- Scoop the beef tendons from the broth and cool (do not discard the broth; you can add it to soup).
- Cut the beef tendons into bite-size pieces and arrange on small plates.
- Mix together the remaining soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, as much or as little chili oil as you like and just enough sugar to create a good balance of flavors.
- Drizzle the sauce over the beef tendons.
- Serve your Chinese-style beef tendons at room temperature or heat in the steamer for a few minutes. Sprinkle scallions and fried garlic before serving.