As the morning sun graces our kitchen, the recipe we often turn to is the Chinese beef shank with sauce. Imagine thin slices of this tender beef, served chilled as an appetizer, harmonizing with steaming jasmine rice or intertwining in a robust noodle soup. And for those standout mornings? It’s dreamlike alongside crispy scallion pancakes or a glistening you tiao.
Often showcased as a flavorful appetizer in grand Chinese dinners, this beef shank is not only a mouthwatering dish by itself but serves as a versatile base, effortlessly complementing a variety of meals. The highlight? Its braising sauce, a harmonious blend that deepens and evolves with each use, making it perfect for reinventing various other dishes.
The Magic Behind The Braising Sauce
It’s this rich braising concoction that truly elevates the dish. Beyond the succulent beef shank, this liquid gold can be repurposed to work its charm on various meats and even vegetarian options. Here are some inspirations:
- Meats to consider: oxtails, chicken drumsticks, duck wings, pig’s trotters, pork bones, and more. These often-overlooked cuts become delicacies when kissed by the braising sauce.
- Vegetarian delights: tofu, seaweed knots, lotus roots, and soybeans can all be elevated with this aromatic mixture.
Should you venture beyond beef shank, remember to tweak the cooking time as needed. And if curiosity strikes or doubts emerge, don’t hesitate to drop a comment!
Golden Tips for Perfection
- Some of the aromatics might be elusive. While the marked “optional” ones can be skipped, their addition elevates the dish.
- Post beef braising, discard the aromatic pouch, but hold onto that precious sauce. After straining, it can be stored in the freezer, ready to grace another dish soon.
- Reusing the sauce? Remember to refresh the ingredients but avoid going beyond half the original quantity. And yes, don’t forget to adjust the salt!
- For the silkiest, most photogenic slices, cool the beef shank thoroughly before cutting. Patience will reward you with impeccable texture.
- Spices: 2 cinnamon sticks, 1 black cardamom pod, ½ tbsp Sichuan peppercorns, 2 star anise, 8 cloves, 1 dried tangerine peel, 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp peppercorns (white or black), 3 dried liquorice slices (optional), 1 whole nutmeg (optional), 1 tbsp fennel seeds (optional)
- Main: 2½ lbs beef shank, 3 ginger slices, ¼ cup Shaoxing wine, 5 garlic cloves, 4 scallions (large chunks), 15g rock sugar (or granulated sugar)
- Seasoning: ¼ cup light soy sauce, 2 tbsp dark soy sauce, 4 cups of liquid (water or stock), Salt (adjust to your preference)
Steps to Culinary Bliss
- Start by securing all spices in a tea pouch or within a cheesecloth to create a nifty spice packet.
- Segment your beef shank into 2-3 uniform chunks, each around 5-6” long. Boil the beef and ginger in water till impurities emerge. Drain, rinse, and clean the pot.
- Reintroduce the beef to the pot. Add the aromatic spice pouch, wine, garlic, scallions, rock sugar, soy sauces, and your chosen liquid (enough to submerge the beef). Season with salt.
- Let it all come to a boil, then simmer gently until the beef is fork-tender, about 60 to 90 minutes.
- Avoid overcooking to retain the beef’s texture. Once done, let the beef cool comprehensively before you slice it to maintain its structure.
- For an intensified flavor, let the beef immerse in the cooled braising sauce overnight in your refrigerator.
Indulge, savor, and let this delightful dish transport you to the bustling streets of ancient China, with each bite more flavorful than the last!