Sunday, February 21, 2010

Asian Beef Stew

Still alive here, sorry for the delay - I just had company in town. After a wonderful week with family, here's the new post. This stew is amazingly intoxicating. It perfumes the house w/ this awesome rich and spicy smell of anise and szechuan peppercorns.

I know the spices may be a little exotic and if you want to find them, check out your local spice market or if you're lucky enough to have an Asian supermarket nearby, they should have them. If not, just come and visit me. I'll make it for you.

Not sure why this photo loaded portrait instead of landscape. I don't know how to fix it, so turn your head clockwise.

I don't know that I've seen beef flank this thick at the traditional supermarkets so while you're at the Asian supermarket, look for it. It's super affordable.I cubed into about 1" pieces
The beef needs to have some fat and maybe even tendon. Any good slow cooker beef cut would work well, lots of connective tissue and a little bit of a fattier cut is best. You can always skim off the fat in the end (which of course, I do).

Heavy bottom pot, preheating..check.
Try browning in a few batches if necessary - you need the carmelization. Carmelization is key, friends. Season the beef before you start, salt & pepper.

Then take the garlic, ginger, anise and szechuan peppercorns
After all batches are browned, throw everyone back into the pot (there should be some juices accumulated from the beef sitting) and add the aforementioned ingredients.

Let them cook for a few minutes.
Try not to pass out from how good it smells.

Add oyster sauce
Soy sauce..
Toss to coat everyone
Throw in potatoes an radish
Add water..
Looks like this..mmmmmmmmmm.
But wait! It gets better. Simmer for 2 hours minimum. The longer the better. This dish is best on the 3rd day or so.
Serve over noodles (egg, ramen, spaghetti, linguine, whatever you have).
If you want to be nice, skim the fat off the top. If you want to be super nice, pick out the anise pods and ginger. Leave the peppercorns, they're too small to pick out. You'll need a magnifying glass and a lot of patience. If you want, use a little cheese cloth or even a large tea ball so you can fish them out easier. I don't mind tasting along the way when I yank the spices out. It's my reward.
Ya..skip the tea ball.

Asian Beef Stew

Serves 6-8

3.5 - 4 lbs beef flank
2 lbs potatoes (waxy ones work best: Yukon, red skinned, etc.)
2 lbs radishes (I used daikon if you can find them, if not, use the little red ones - two bunches)
5 garlic cloves, smashed & peeled
2 oz. ginger (about the size of your thumb, peeled and sliced)
3 star anise
1/2 tsp. szechuan peppercorns
1/4 c. oyster sauce
3 tbsp. soy sauce
4 c. water
*serve with fresh cilantro

Cube the beef into 1" cubes. Leave the fat and tendons on. Get a heavy bottom pot heating. Brown the beef in a few batches, be careful not to crowd the pot so you actually sear the meat.

After the meat is seared, set aside. There should be some leftover drippings in the pan from the meat, if not, add about 2 teaspoons of light cooking oil. Throw in the garlic, ginger, anise and szechuan peppercorns to season the oil slightly. Add in the beef with any drippings that have accumulated on the bottom of the pan. Stir in the potatoes and radishes. The whole time this is going, make sure the heat is cranked high. Add the oyster and soy sauces, stir everyone to combine. Add the water and bring everyone to a boil. The 4 cups of water is an approximation. Just make sure there is enough liquid to cover everything well.

Then let this simmer for 60-90 minutes. The longer the better. Make sure to skim off the fat from the top before serving, it's a rich dish as is so that added grease needs to go.

Serve with noodles or rice. And a salad or something green.

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