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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