I usually avoid Chinese food, mainly because aside from the ubiquitous deep fried component, it seems that every dish contains equal amounts of sugar and sodium, along with numerous mystery ingredients that weren’t clarified for me until I visited China – and I was a bit turned off.
It’s also interesting to note that American-Chinese food bears little resemblance to Chinese-Chinese food; I think there’s more sugar used over here for one thing.
However, I really love some of the spices used in Chinese cooking and when I unearthed this ancient recipe from my repertoire I decided to share it; not only is it very easy to assemble (plus a few hours of slow braising), it’s incredibly delicious.
If you don’t like anise (that includes anything fennel-tasting), then this tender beef pot roast is not for you. But I think it’s absolutely wonderful – serve it with plain boiled rice and some steamed bok choy.
There’s no MSG here, which makes me wonder why it was ever considered necessary in the first place.
ASIAN SPICED BEEF POT-ROAST
3lb (1.5k) beef pot roast
2 tablespoons of vegetable or peanut oil
1 1/2 cups (375ml) of water
1/3 cup (80ml) of low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons of dry sherry
1 tablespoon of sugar
5 thin slices of peeled fresh ginger
1 whole star anise (or 8 broken sections)
A good grind of black pepper – at least 1/4 teaspoon
1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil to finish, plus extra if needed
Pre-heat the oven to 325F (160C).
Pat the beef dry with paper towel and heat the oil in a large ovenproof pan or casserole pot that has a tight-fitting lid. Brown the meat on all sides turning it carefully, then transfer it to a large plate.
Discard the fat in the pan; return the pan to the stove top and add the water, low sodium soy sauce, sherry, sugar, sliced ginger, star anise and black pepper. Bring everything to a simmer then carefully place the beef back in the pan.
Cover it with a lid and stick it in the oven for 1 hour. After one hour, take it out and carefully turn the beef over in the sauce then put it back in the oven, covered, for a second hour. After 2 hours, take it out again and turn the beef over one more time. Return it to the oven for one more hour (if it looks like it needs more liquid, add more water).
After 3 hours the beef should be fork-tender. Take it out of the oven and sprinkle the sesame oil over the beef then simmer it uncovered on the stove top for about 10 minutes – add a splash more sesame oil if you think it needs it.
Transfer the meat to a carving board and tent it with foil to keep it warm while you strain the sauce, dumping the solids. Put the sauce back in the pan and simmer it gently while you slice the beef as thinly as possible.
Arrange the sliced beef on a warmed platter drizzled with some of the warm sauce.
Serve it with plain rice and some lightly steamed bok choy…offer the remaining sauce to pour over.