Basic Red-Cooked Beef

Serves 4–6

Don't have any stewing beef? Red cooking is a nice way to add flavor to less popular cuts of meat, such as liver.

6 dried mushrooms

1 large daikon

2 slices ginger

1 cup light soy sauce

4 tablespoons dark soy sauce

4 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry

4 teaspoons sugar

4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons brown sugar

½ teaspoon five-spice powder

2 tablespoons oil for stir-frying

2 garlic cloves, minced

1½ pounds boneless stewing beef, cut into chunks

2 cups water

  • Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water for at least 20 minutes to soften. Gently squeeze to remove any excess water, and slice. Peel the daikon and cut into ½ -inch slices. Peel the ginger, if desired.

  • Combine the light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, rice wine, white sugar, brown sugar, and five-spice powder; set aside.

  • Add oil to a preheated wok or skillet. When oil is hot, add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry briefly until aromatic. Add the beef and cook until browned.

  • Add the sauce and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer. After 1 hour, add the daikon and dried mushrooms. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced.

Make Your Own Sauce for Red Cooking

In red cooking, previously browned meat is stewed in a combination of soy sauce and other ingredients. To make your own red cooking sauce, experiment with different combinations of light and dark soy sauce, rice wine, and other liquid ingredients until you find one you like. For extra flavor, add stronger seasonings such as star anise and dried tangerine peel (see Spicy Red-Cooked Beef, page 119, for ideas).

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