beef and bitter melon stirfry

beef & bitter melon stirfry

I thought I became officially old 3 years ago. Well, my signs of ageing have just reached new botox-necessitating heights. I am not only eating but cooking and posting a recipe containing bitter melon. My young self would've just gagged and called my now aged self a traitor for going anywhere near this green reptilian-looking gourd. Mr B and I were smacking our lips last night over this dish. What is going on?


300 g sirloin or eye fillet steak, fat trimmed and cut against the grain into .5 cm slices or thinner if you like

1.5 c sliced bitter melon, discard seeds and scrape out white flesh inside when preparing, slice thinly at a 45-degree angle

2 t chopped garlic

¼ c chicken stock

1 T salt

vegetable oil for frying

beef marinade:

1 t oyster sauce

1 t shaoxing wine

1 t sugar

2 t light soy sauce

1.5 t cornstarch





2 t dark soy sauce

2 T light soy sauce

1 t sesame oil

1/8 t white pepper

3 T xaoxing wine

3 T oyster sauce

2 t sugar

1 T cornflour dissolved in 3 T water


Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl whisk till sugar and cornstarch have dissolved. Add beef and toss well. Marinate for at least 20 mins.

Boil a medium-sized pot of water and add 1 T salt. Blanche bitter melon for 45 seconds then drain immediately.

Place all sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside.

Add 1 T of vegetable oil in a wok and heat until smoking. Add half of the beef and stirring quickly for 45 seconds making sure all sides are browned. Remove immediately from the wok and transfer to a bowl. Repeat the same for the rest of the beef.

Reduce heat to medium high so the garlic doesn't burn. Give the wok time to cool down a bit, about 1 minute. Add 1 T vegetable oil then add garlic. Fry till fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add bitter melon and keep stirring for 10 seconds. Add sauce and stock and stir until the sauce bubbles, about 5 seconds. Add beef and mix everything well. Cook for a further minute. Add some of the cornflour and water mixture and thicken sauce to your liking. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 part of a banquet.

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beef shin ragu

beef shin ragu by Bent Street Kitchen

I couldn't let winter slip away without finishing off with a satisfying ragu. Slow cooking beef shin with the bone in gives this ragu such a deliciously rich flavour. Enjoy!


1.5 kg beef shin, bone in

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1.5 cups diced carrots

3 celery sticks, diced

3-4 sprigs of rosemary

1 cinnamon stick

2 bay leaves

2 anchovy fillets

2 400g tins of plum tomatoes

3/4 bottle of red wine

1 t sherry vinegar

1/2 - 1 t sugar

Grapeseed oil, for frying



Preheat oven to 190°C.

Heat oil in oven-proof casserole pan over high heat. Season beef with salt and pepper. Brown beef pieces all over and fry in batches. Remove beef from pan and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium. Add more oil if needed. Fry onion, garlic, carrots, celery and herbs. Cook for about 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes, wine, anchovies and beef and bring to the boil. Cover pan with lid and cook in oven for 3 hours, or until meat breaks easily with a spoon. Add sherry vinegar and sugar. Check seasoning and add salt, pepper and more sherry vinegar and sugar to taste.

Serve with pappardelle pasta, roast or mashed potatoes or steamed long grain rice.

Serves 4-6.

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beef shin ragu by Bent Street Kitchen

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beef braised in black vinegar

beef braised in black vinegar by Bent Street Kitchen

A few weeks ago I had a craving for a Chinese stew. One that had a depth of flavour that only comes from slow cooking and spices like star anise and cinnamon. I also knew it had to have boiled eggs in it because boiled eggs in Chinese stews always seem more special to me, reminiscent of a home-cooked meal. Maybe, this is me unconsciously living out some of my Chinese heritage. After all, eggs play a significant part in the Chinese culture, symbolising fertility. Boiled eggs are usually served as part of the traditional engagement tea ceremony and at the announcement party of a baby's birth. In my case though, it had nothing to do with fertility or babies. I just wanted a really good stew to have with steamed rice and some boiled eggs I could pour the sauce on.

I've had all sorts of Chinese stews. I love the Cantonese braised beef brisket with radish. Then there's the Taiwanese kind with chopped up pork and boiled eggs. Basically, this is a stew which combines all the things I like about Chinese stews- especially the mandarin peel, a wonderfully fragrant addition that makes the flavours of this stew deliciously complex.

Now when I'm having an Asian stew like this one, as delicious as it is, I often crave something else to go with it. Something crispy or totally different in texture. I guess being Asian, I'm used to eating a lot of different dishes in one meal- Chinese banquets, Japanese bentos, yum cha. So, I created some Sweet Potato & Coriander Fritters to go with this stew. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. Let me know how you go with it.


2 T vegetable oil

1.5 kg beef brisket, fat trimmed but not too much that your meat would go dry, cut into 5 cm chunks

1 t sea salt

3 pieces star anise

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 c of sliced ginger, peeled then sliced into thin rounds

3/4 c Shaoxing wine

1/2 c Chinkiang black vinegar

2 T light soy sauce

2 T dark soy sauce

1/4 c oyster sauce



70 g rock sugar

3 c chicken stock

1 mandarin peel, broken into 4 cm pieces

6 boiled eggs, peeled

coriander leaves for garnishing

Chilli pickle, optional:

1/4 c rice wine vinegar

2 t caster sugar

2 - 3 long red chillies, sliced crosswise into thin slices


Preheat oven to 160 °C.

Heat oil in an ovenproof casserole pan to medium-low heat. Sprinkle beef with salt and toss just before cooking. Brown beef pieces on all sides until golden brown. Remove from pan.

Add ginger, star anise, cinnamon stick to pan and cook for about 5 mins. 

Add wine and deglaze pan. Add soy sauces, vinegar, oyster sauce, rock sugar, mandarin peel and stock and bring to a boil. Check seasoning.

Return beef to pan, making sure most of the meat is covered by the sauce. Cover with lid and cook in oven for 2 1/2 hours.

Carefully remove pan from oven and add boiled eggs ensuring they are covered in the sauce as much as possible.  Return to the oven and cook for another hour or until the meat is tender and can easily be broken apart with a wooden spoon.

If doing the chilli pickle, dissolve sugar in vinegar and add chillies. Set aside.

Remove from oven and allow to sit for 20 mins. Break meat apart and with a fork so you can mix more of the sauce through it.

Serve with steamed rice, Asian greens and chilli pickle.

For a special treat, make some Sweet Potato and Coriander Fritters to go with.

Serves 4-6 people.

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Here's a version of the stew in which I used chuck steak instead of brisket, used double the amount of black vinegar and didn't add boiled eggs. I found the brisket's flavour matched the rest of the ingredients more and using less vinegar meant more balance in the flavours.

Here's a version of the stew in which I used chuck steak instead of brisket, used double the amount of black vinegar and didn't add boiled eggs. I found the brisket's flavour matched the rest of the ingredients more and using less vinegar meant more balance in the flavours.

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