This dish is yet another old favourite that for some unfathomable reason fell out of favour.
I can’t for the life of me think why. When it comes to box-ticking, or reckoning up merit points, it’s streets ahead of anything even vaguely similar.
It’s very economical, using as it does a cheaper, tougher cut of beef.
The preparation is dead simple – slice, dice, and chuck in a pan.
The cooking is even easier – simmer and stir.
I love the way it demonstrates the essential alchemy of the casserole or stew – a tough cut of beef and a few vegetables slowly transform into something utterly delicious – the meat becomes melt in your mouth tender, the water morphs into a fantastic broth, the carrots end up beautifully sweet, and even people who normally wouldn’t look twice at celery love it when it’s been braised this way.
With so much going for it, I decided it was time to bring it in from the cold, but as an updated Paleo version of the original. All that needed doing here was to swap out the soy sauce for the fish sauce. As I mention in the notes, if you don’t fancy using the Sake, simply skip it.
After a long afternoon’s shopping in a booming gale and temperatures just above freezing, Mrs. Paleovirtus and Paleovirtus Jr. were quite pleased to be greeted by the aromas from this dish as they walked in through the door, I can tell you.
The only drawback to this dish is that it’s just too damn easy to say “just one more bowlful, just one more…”
Chinese Braised Beef
- 820g braising steak cut into 1½ inch cubes – see Notes
- 5 spring onions (scallions), cut into 2 inch lengths
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ½ inch thick rounds
- 4 large plum tomatoes, halved
- 3 tbsp Sake – see Notes
- 3 tbsp fish sauce – see Notes
- a 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 tsp five spice powder
- 2 sticks of celery, sliced into ½ inch thick sections
- 3 tbsp coconut sugar
- Thoroughly wash and then drain the meat.
- Place the beef, carrots, celery, spring onions, garlic, ginger, Sake, fish sauce, and five spice powder in a large saucepan. Add cold water to cover. Stir well. Bring up to a boil, and then drop down to a low simmer. Take care to skim off any impurities that rise to the surface during the initial period of simmering. Simmer for 45 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and the coconut sugar. Stir well, and continue to simmer for a further 30 minutes.
- Check the meat for doneness. If in your opinion the meat is not tender enough, continue to simmer, checking every 15 minutes or so. Once the meat is cooked to your satisfaction, remove the pan from the heat. Serve, with a side of egg fried cauliflower rice.
- Names for this type of cut of beef differ, but what you want to be using here is one of those cuts of beef that work best with long, slow cooking times.
- Depending on your own personal Paleo preferences, you may not want to use the sake. If you don’t, simply omit it.
- To make the dish truly Paleo, get hold of fish sauce that contains fish, water, and salt. You’re probably best looking in an Asian store for genuine Thai fish sauce, although if you’re in Britain Tesco’s own fish sauce fits the bill. I currently use Thanh Ha Phu Quoc.