Slow braising in soya sauce is one of the best things you can do with stewing meat, making it scented, tender and melting. Here, I’ve used some whole spices, oyster sauce, sugar, garlic and ginger to turn some cheap cubes of stewing beef into meaty gold.
To accompany it, I’ve broken out my packet of Chinese sausages (lap cheung). These are a sausage rich in pork fat, sugar and anise, preserved by wind-drying. You can buy two kinds of Chinese sausage; these, which are red in colour and made from pork and pork fat, and the darker ones, made from duck meat and liver. I’ve put the rest of the packet in the freezer, to use another day in some steamed rice. Today’s sausage is going in some stir-fried rice.
The beef is easy – all its deliciousness comes from long, slow simmering. You’ll need:
1 lb cubed stewing beef
1 bulb of garlic, halved
3 slices ginger
2 dried chilis
2 stars of anise
1 stick of cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons soya sauce
1 wine glass Chinese rice wine
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Water to cover
Put all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pan and simmer very gently for two to three hours, until the meat is tender. Top up with water if the pan starts to look dry.
The fried rice is full of simple, assertive flavours. I used:
4 Chinese sausages, sliced thin
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 inches peeled ginger, julienned (cut into matchsticks)
8 spring onions, sliced into circles
1 pack shitake mushrooms, sliced
1 large handful frozen peas
1 large bowl cold, pre-cooked rice
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespons soya sauce
Stir fry the sausage slices, moving everything round quickly over a high heat until they give up some of their fat, then throw in the garlic, ginger and spring onions and stir fry for three minutes. Add the mushrooms and peas and continue to stir fry until the mushrooms are soft and cooked. Crumble the rice with your hands into the wok. It’s vitally important that the rice is cold from the fridge; warm rice will go gungy and come apart. Cold rice will keep its grains whole and keep its texture. Stir fry the rice until it’s all piping hot, then make a well in the middle so you can see the bottom of the wok, break the eggs into it and use your spatula to scramble them in the well. Stir the cooked egg into the rest of the rice, add the sesame oil and soya sauce, stir fry for another twenty seconds, and serve.