Chinese Flavours One-pot Style

The long, slow cooking of this dish takes away the heat of the chilli so that you get a comforting, spicy dish rather than a hot one. This quantity of meat, together with rice/noodles and vegetables, will serve 4 people. I usually use skirt or shin, both of which give great, cut-with-a-spoon, results. You will need:-

3 – 4 tbsp groundnut or vegetable oil, for frying
Thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
Bunch of spring onions, cleaned and sliced
1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
1kg braising beef, cut into large chunks
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp five-spice powder
2 whole star anise
2 tsp sugar (preferably muscovado)
3 tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
500ml beef stock (from a cube is fine)
3 tbsp dark soy sauce

  • Heat your oven to 150C, Gas 2
  • Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a flameproof casserole. Gently fry the ginger, spring onions and chilli for about 3 minutes until soft, then remove them from the casserole and set them aside
  • Toss the beef in the flour, add a little more oil to the casserole and brown the meat. You will need to do this in batches so as to keep the meet browning, rather than braising
  • Bash the star anise with something heavy. You need to crack the outer shell to release the flavour, but not to crush them
  • Put all of the beef back into the casserole. Add the five-spice powder and star anise and tip the ginger, spring onion and chilli mixture in too. Add the sugar, and stir everything together until combined
  • Turn the heat up higher then add the wine or sherry to deglaze the casserole, scraping up any meaty bits which have stuck to the bottom
  • Pour in the stock and soy sauce, bring the whole lot to a simmer, cover tightly and transfer to the oven to cook for 2 to 2½ hours, stirring occasionally

Remove the star anise before serving or, if you can’t find them, warn people! This dish keeps well in the freezer. I usually cook the full quantity and freeze half to provide a quick meal when we’ve been out for the day.