Fuchsia Dunlop’s red-braised beef with tofu “bamboo”

Another Fuchsia Dunlop recipe from Every Grain Of Rice. As she writes in the introduction to the recipe this   gently spicy, slow-cooked stew is the perfect thing for a winter’s evening. The tofu soaks up the flavours of the meat and has a delightful texture. If you’d rather, you can use chunks of winter vegetables instead: carrot, potato and turnip all work well. Dried bamboo shoots, soaked to soften then cooked with the beef from the beginning, make another wonderful variation.

I decided to include the carrots and the tofu and I substituted hoisin sauce for the sweet fermented sauce in the original recipe.

Ingredients

450g stewing beef, or beef shin (I used chuck steak)
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 1/2 tablespoons Sichuan chilli bean paste
25 g piece ginger, unpeeled, crushed slightly
2 spring onions, crushed slightly, white parts only
1 star anise
1 1/2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
750ml stock, plus a little more if needed
2 tablespoons shaoxing wine
2 sticks tofu ‘bamboo’, or dried tofu knots
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into half-moons

I have adjusted the original text to include the the different things I did.
Cut the beef into 2–3 cm chunks. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, add the beef and reboil. When a froth has risen to the surface, tip the beef into a colander, drain and rinse.

Heat the oil in a seasoned wok over a medium flame. Add the chilli bean paste and stir-fry until the oil is red and richly fragrant. Tip in the ginger, spring onions and star anise and continue to stir until you can smell them. Add the hoisin sauce and stir-fry for a few moments more before pouring in the stock.

Place the beef and Shaoxing wine in a saucepan or casserole and pour over the contents of the wok. Bring to a boil, then partially cover the pan, reduce the heat and simmer for a couple of hours, until the meat is beautifully tender. Half an hour before serving, add the carrot pieces.

When the beef has started its slow cooking, set the tofu to soak in hot water from the kettle.

Shortly before you wish to serve the dish, drain the tofu and cut on the diagonal into 2–3 cm sections to complement the beef, discarding any pieces that remain hard. Add it to the stew and heat through (you may add a little more stock or hot water from the kettle if you need it), then serve.

I served this with plain white steamed rice (I prefer Thai fragrant rice for this) and some shredded spring greens, which I blanched, drained and then stir-fried with garlic, ginger and the green parts of the spring onions I had used in the main recipe.

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