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Pictorial: Beef Shank Braised with Five Spice/Soy


hzrt8w
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Beef Shank Braised with Five Spice and Soy Sauce (五香牛腱)

mudbug: This pictorial is for you.

Have you ever tried the sliced beef shank served as one of the cold-appertizers in a Chinese banquet? The strong flavor of five spice and soy sauce is unmistakable. They are easier to make at home than you might think. Beef shank is usually eaten as appertizers or snacks.

Serving suggestion: 5 to 6 (as appertizer)

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Use one piece of beef shank, about 2 lb. Rinse and clean.

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Boil half a pot of water. Add beef shank and boil it for about 5 minutes. Flip a few times.

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Remove from pot. Rinse under cold water to cleanse it a little bit. Drain.

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Prepare the braising liquid. I used the ready-made "Chinese Marinade" Lo Shui [Cantonese] 滷水 by Lee Kum Kee. It is a pre-mixed soy sauce based liquid with five spices added. If you don't have Chinese Marinade, simply substitute its portion with dark soy sauce. Besides Chinese Marinade, I used dark soy sauce, and added the following spices (clockwise from the bottle of dark soy sauce):

3 small pieces of chan pei [Cantonese] (dried mandarin peels), 1 stick of cinnamon, about 1 tsp of coriander, about 6 to 7 star anises, and 2 tsp of sichuan peppercorn. I would have also used 2 tsp of cloves but I ran out of them.

Use a pot big enough to hold the beef shank, add 1/2 cup of Chinese Marinade, 1/2 cup of dark soy sauce, 2 cups of water, add all the spices listed above, add 3 tsp of Shao Hsing cooking wine, 2 pieces of medium-size rock sugar, and ginger slices (about 1 inch in length).

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Boil the braising solution for 5 to 10 minutes.

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Add the beef shank to the pot. Wait until the braising liquid comes to a boil again with the beef shank. Boil for about 5 minutes. Reduce the stove setting to a simmer. Simmer for 3 hours. Turn the beef shank about every 30 minutes.

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This is how the beef shank looked after 3 hours of simmering. Turn off the stove. Remove the beef shank and wait until it cools down to room temperature (or put it in the refrigerator for overnight storage).

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This is how the beef shank looked before slicing.

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Cut the beef shank into very thin (about 1/8 inch thick or thinner) slices.

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For presentation: lay the beef shank slices on the serving plate in a circular fashion. Put all the odd end pieces in the center.

Drizzle about 2 tsp of sesame oil on top. Read to serve.

The finished dish.

Note: You may save the braising liquid - filter and discard all the fat, spices and residue. Store the braising liquid in a plastic container in the freezer. You may start with this braising liquid next time. Just replenish with a small amount of Chinese Marinade, dark soy sauce, and water. Use the same amount of rock sugar, ginger and other spices.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Thanks, Ah Leung Gaw...must try this soon. It's very similar to Teochew Ark (Duck)/ Chiu Chau Ngap.

< TP :rolleyes: ......... dreaming of carved carrots/cucumbers/etc as garnish to this elegant dish >

TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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I never see whole beef shanks. They are always cut into thick "slices". I guess if I ask the butcher, he can cut it special for me.

Is there another cut that could be used as a substitute for beef shank?

What else did you eat with this dish, hrzt?

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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I never see whole beef shanks. They are always cut into thick "slices". I guess if I ask the butcher, he can cut it special for me.

...Is there another cut that could be used as a substitute for beef shank?

What else did you eat with this dish,  hrzt?

Ask your butcher to leave the beef shank alone. Sell the whole piece to you. We cannot cook sliced beef shanks using this recipe. Must be whole.

Substitute? I had eaten some Jiang4 Niou2 Rou4 [Mandarin] 醬牛肉 (braised beef with soy and five spice) in Shenyang many years ago. It wasn't beef shank but a different cut. Maybe you can try with a different cut too. Same process.

This dish is mostly served as an appertizer (cold) before the main course.

Tonight my dinner was Steamed Spareribs with Plum Sauce. :smile: Lotus Roots with Black Mushrooms and Dry Conpoy. And, of course, the Ginseng Chicken Soup! :laugh: Interested? [next3]

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Okie dok...found a nice chunk of tenderloin in the freezer. You think it will work? Inspired, as usual, by your tutorials, I'm defrosting it to make for dinner.

Tenderloin may be a bit too lean. This recipe (simmering for 3 hours) is good for a cut with tendons (which otherwise would be very tough and chewy if not for long simmer). Perhaps you can try it and let us know... :smile:

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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This looks really great, Ah Leung, as do all your other pictorial recipes in this brilliant series.

We do something similar, Korean style: changjorim, or soy braised shin of beef with chilies.

Shin (as we call shank in the UK) is a brilliant cut for slow braising, not least because all the tough connective tissue melts down to make the braising liquid thickly gelatinous and so able to set into a firm jelly. What we do is slow braise the meat (usually in one piece or else in big chunks) in soy sauce, water, with slices of garlic and ginger, and heaps of fresh red chillies. I usually just leave the chillies whole, maybe add a dozen or more. I cook until the meat is falling apart, allow to cool and de-fat, then shred the meat and chillies into the braising liquid and allow it to set in the fridge. Delicious cold, a chilled yet fiery, meaty hot condiment to eat in small, mouth-searing bites with huge bowls of steaming white rice. The chilli jelly is the best part!

I will definitely try your version and the delicate spices I'm sure will give a great flavour (but I'll probably not be able to resist throwing in a chilli or two).

Thanks again for this series!

Marc

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Marc, your changjorim sounds good! I think I will try both hzrt's and your version soon...maybe this weekend for my Chinese guests.

hzrt, I've looked at those bottles of Chinese marinate on the grocery shelf. Never tried any, but I will have to buy a bottle now. You've used it in acouple pictorials already. So, if it's good enough for our banquet chef, then it's ok by me! :laugh:

I think using a "nice piece of tenderloin" would be a waste...The whole idea is the nice gelatinous tendons in with the meat. With tenderloin, the meat would fall apart before it could absorb lots of flavour. I find that with making beef stew. If I use a lean cut, as with chunks of "stewing beef", I find the meat just falls apart and dry to the taste. If I use shortribs, with bits of fat and gristle, it is moist and flavourful.

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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I think using a "nice piece of tenderloin" would be a waste...The whole idea is the nice gelatinous tendons in with the meat.  With tenderloin, the meat would fall apart before it could absorb lots of flavour. I find that with making beef stew. If I use a lean cut, as with chunks of "stewing beef", I find the meat just falls apart and dry to the taste. If I use shortribs, with bits of fat and gristle, it is moist and flavourful.

Totally agree with Dejah. I remember once being talked out of buying shin at a fancy butcher's, got some round or chuck instead. Not the same at all. Fell apart to bits and was dry.

The beauty of braising, of course, is that the cheaper, the tougher the cut, the better the end result!

A miserable, wet, rainy day down here in southwest England: a perfect day to try beef shank braised with five spice!

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I think using a "nice piece of tenderloin" would be a waste...The whole idea is the nice gelatinous tendons in with the meat.  With tenderloin, the meat would fall apart before it could absorb lots of flavour. I find that with making beef stew. If I use a lean cut, as with chunks of "stewing beef", I find the meat just falls apart and dry to the taste. If I use shortribs, with bits of fat and gristle, it is moist and flavourful.

Dai Gah Jeh...where were you when I needed you??? :sad:

It turned out exactly as you described...dry to the taste (ho hai), but the children, who prefers lean meat, loved it. The braising liquid was really good. I added some hard-boiled eggs into it towards the end.

TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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I think using a "nice piece of tenderloin" would be a waste...

Dai Gah Jeh...where were you when I needed you??? :sad:

It turned out exactly as you described...dry to the taste I added some hard-boiled eggs into it towards the end.

I was teaching when you needed me...but not about tenderloins. :laugh::laugh:

Dare I say this, " Tepee! You put hard boiled eggs in everything!" :raz:

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Beef Shank Braised with Five Spice and Soy Sauce (五香牛腱)

..............Drizzle about 2 tsp of sesame oil on top.  Read to serve.

Note:  You may save the braising liquid - filter and discard all the fat, spices and residue.  Store the braising liquid in a plastic container in the freezer.  You may start with this braising liquid next time.  Just replenish with a small amount of Chinese Marinade, dark soy sauce, and water.  Use the same amount of rock sugar, ginger and other spices.............

hzrt8w:

The beef looks delicious, and the drizzling of the sesame oil at the end always brings the cold beef alive.

My father, being the northerner he was, also put some scallion on top.

This dish is great with warm Chinese liquor or cold beer and now I am having this craving for that combination and it is not noon yet. :blink:

A question for you, is Lo Shui/滷水 the same as "Master Sauce" or are they different ?

Thank you for another great dish.

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The thing about this dish though, is that it's not a braised dish as westerners traditionally think of it. It's more of a boiled dish in the style of corned beef. It is cooked at a brisk simmer that leaves the beef dry and cooked to death. However, because you slice it very thinly across the grain and drizzle some sort of liquid on top, the resultant pieces are very tender and the flavour pentrates very deeply into the meat.

As a result, you shouldn't be looking at your traditional braising cuts although shin works well. Instead, what you should be looking for is something very lean with little to no marbling and lots of connective tissue. Eye round and top round work well for this, rump would also be good although I image it would be harder to get in the appropriate shape.

PS: I am a guy.

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I will definitely try your version and the delicate spices I'm sure will give a great flavour (but I'll probably not be able to resist throwing in a chilli or two).

Thanks Marc. I think adding some chili into this dish would be great! I haven't seen "chili" mentioned in the recipes written by Hong Kongers. Perhaps this is the "Cantonese are not too fond of chili" thing. :raz:

Besides the "Jiang Niou Rou" [Mandarin] 醬牛肉 (braised beef with soy and five spice), mentioned earlier, that I had in Shenyang, the beef in "Nanjing Beef Noodle Soup" that is so popular seemed to be prepared in a similar way - with the addition of leek in the soup that I could taste. This braising liquid can be diluted with some broth and would make an excellent soup for noodles: wheat based or rice based.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Dare I say this, " Tepee! You put hard boiled eggs in everything!"  :raz:

I knew that one was coming....either from you or Ah Leung Gaw. :rolleyes:

Dejah beated me to it. :raz: It's a very nice Nyonya touch. I would like some of those eggs! I would do that next time.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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A question for you, is Lo Shui/滷水 the same as "Master Sauce" or are they different ?

Thanks, William. Yes I believe Lo Shui is the same as "Master Sauce". Everybody has one's own version. The basics are about the same: dark soy sauce, five spice, chan pei (dry mandarin peel), ginger, rock sugar. In addition, you may add leek, garlic, chili or other ingredients. It is the different proportion of spices that can make the taste different. Note that as you use the "master sauce" to cook meat, some flavor of the meat got extracted into the liquid. That's why the more you re-use the master sauce to cook the next round, the more flavorful it is. Kinda like the mother dough of the sour dough. I know I know... those are microbs, they are different... just an analogy. :smile:

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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  • 4 years later...

I just made this using 2 beef shins, which I guess is what people call shanks in Australia. Except it's about half the size of a whole shank you find in America. It turned out great, thanks to Ah Leung for the great pictorial/recipe.

Looking at the the ingredient list, it seems the Lee Kum Kee "Chinese Marinade" is just sugar, soy sauce, and five spice. I just couldn't justify keeping something like this in my cupboard. Maybe there is some magic here I'm missing? Anyway I used some leftover master stock and just replenished the soy and spices as Ah Leung suggested. I also added 1 tsp fennel and 4 cloves of crushed garlic.

I did find the cloves a bit overpowering, and I only used 1 tsp instead of the prescribed 2 tsp.

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Cloves have a tendency to overwhelm any dish so be very very judicious in its usage. The LKK Lo Shui is a waste of money and superfluous to this dish as a raincoat is for a duck. You already have all the flavour ingredients in the recipe, eg: 5-spice, chan pei, ginger, etc. etc.

And while I am in the iconoclastic mood, I will say that beef shank or shin is best, but any cut of meat that has tendons, gristle and long muscle fibres would do...like short ribs. Unless of course you want to do a fancy dancy presentation of the meat as an appetizer.

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      Red Sichuan peppercorns can come from a number of Zanthoxylum varieties including Zanthoxylum simulans, Zanthoxylum bungeanum, Zanthoxylum schinifolium, etc.
       

      Red Sichuan Peppercorns
       
      Another, less common, variety is 青花椒 (qīng huā jiāo) green Sichuan peppercorn, Zanthoxylum armatum. These are also known as 藤椒 (téng jiāo). This grows all over Asia, from Pakistan to Japan and down to the countries of SE Asia. This variety is significantly more floral in taste and, at its freshest, smells strongly of lime peel. These are often used with fish, rabbit, frog etc. Unlike red peppercorns (usually), the green variety are often used in their un-dried state, but not often outside Sichuan.
       

      Green Sichuan Peppercorns
       

      Fresh Green Sichuan Peppercorns

      I strongly recommend NOT buying Sichuan peppercorns in supermarkets outside China. They lose their scent, flavour and numbing quality very rapidly. There are much better examples available on sale online. I have heard good things about The Mala Market in the USA, for example.

      I buy mine in small 30 gram / 1oz bags from a high turnover vendor. And that might last me a week. It’s better for me to restock regularly than to use stale peppercorns.

      Both red and green peppercorns are used in the preparation of flavouring oils, often labelled in English as 'Prickly Ash Oil'. 花椒油 (huā jiāo yóu) or 藤椒油 (téng jiāo yóu).
       

       
      The tree's leaves are also used in some dishes in Sichuan, but I've never seen them out of the provinces where they grow.
       
      A note on my use of ‘Sichuan’ rather than ‘Szechuan’.
       
      If you ever find yourself in Sichuan, don’t refer to the place as ‘Szechuan’. No one will have any idea what you mean!

      ‘Szechuan’ is the almost prehistoric transliteration of 四川, using the long discredited Wade-Giles romanization system. Thomas Wade was a British diplomat who spoke fluent Mandarin and Cantonese. After retiring as a diplomat, he was elected to the post of professor of Chinese at Cambridge University, becoming the first to hold that post. He had, however, no training in theoretical linguistics. Herbert Giles was his replacement. He (also a diplomat rather than an academic) completed a romanization system begun by Wade. This became popular in the late 19th century, mainly, I suggest, because there was no other!

      Unfortunately, both seem to have been a little hard of hearing. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked why the Chinese changed the name of their capital from Peking to Beijing. In fact, the name didn’t change at all. It had always been pronounced with /b/ rather than /p/ and /ʤ/ rather than /k/. The only thing which changed was the writing system.

      In 1958, China adopted Pinyin as the standard romanization, not to help dumb foreigners like me, but to help lower China’s historically high illiteracy rate. It worked very well indeed, Today, it is used in primary schools and in some shop or road signs etc., although street signs seldom, if ever, include the necessary tone markers without which it isn't very helpful.
       

      A local shopping mall. The correct pinyin (with tone markers) is 'dōng dū bǎi huò'.
       
      But pinyin's main use today is as the most popular input system for writing Chinese characters on computers and cell-phones. I use it in this way every day, as do most people. It is simpler and more accurate than older romanizations. I learned it in one afternoon.  I doubt anyone could have done that with Wade-Giles.
       
      Pinyin has been recognised for over 30 years as the official romanization by the International Standards Organization (ISO), the United Nations and, believe it or not, The United States of America, along with many others. Despite this recognition, old romanizations linger on, especially in America. Very few people in China know any other than pinyin. 四川 is  'sì chuān' in pinyin.
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