Red-braising is one of the oldest cooking techniques in the world. Originally thought to have originated in Shanghai, red-braising is a slow-cooking technique with red chili bean paste, Sichuan peppers and soy sauce. The resulting stew has deep flavors, very pungent and a beautiful deep red color. The slow-cooking concentrates the flavor and the lets them integrate slowly resulting in a wonderful stew.
This stew is no exception. Slowly simmered for almost 2 1/2 hours, the stew is a beautiful color, the meat is fork tender and the flavors deep and satisfying. I used mutton because of the absence of beef in India, and thought that the stew was excellent with the deeply flavored meat. The tender daikon radish adds a contrasting soft bite and nuances to the broth. This is a stew that I can have tons of, lip burning, palate numbing, but so good!
This wonderful bible on Sichuan cooking is a must have on every bookshelf. The recipes range from the simple to the more complex and involved. This is a book I am slowly getting into, lots of unique and fun recipes to try.
For more recipes from this cookbook click here.
2 lb boneless mutton or beef
6 cups water
2 tablespoons oil
Chinese cooking wine or Mirin
3 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1 Chinese black cardamom or 3 large Indian cardamom
2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
1 segment star anise
4 tablespoons chili bean paste (available on Amazon)
5 cups water or chicken stock
Salt, to taste
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
4-5 scallion whites, kept in 2-3 inch lengths
1 medium daikon radish (mooli) peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
Cilantro to garnish
Heat the 6 cups water in a small pot till boiling vigorously. Add the meat and keep on high flame till the liquid boils vigorously again. Turn off. Scoop off the scum and wash the meat out in cold water. This step essentially gets rid of the blood of the meat which preserves the red color of the stew.
Cool the meat and allow to dry for 10 minutes. Heat the oil in a wide frying pan on high and add 1/2 the meat. Sauté on high heat till all sides of the meat are browned. You want to seal the meat properly to hold the juices. Do not overcrowd the meat as it will start to stew and will not fry and brown. When all the meat is fried, combine them in the frying pan, it does not matter at this stage if it is crowded, an add the wine. Cook till the wine evaporates completely. Remove and set aside to cool, be sure to collect all the sauce if any.
Add the 3 tablespoons of oil to a pot and add the ginger, black cardamom, Sichuan peppercorns, star anise and chili bean paste and sauté on medium heat till the paste has fried, the oil is a deep red color and smells very aromatic. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Add the meat and bring to a simmer. Add the soy sauce, scallions salt (remember the soy and chili sauce have lots of salt too) and simmer gently for 1.5 hours. Test the meat and make sure it is very tender, if not simmer for another 30 minutes.
When the meat is tender, add the daikon and simmer for 10 minutes. take off the heat. At this stage you can take out the scallions and whole spices, but I leave them in.
To serve, heat the stew till boiling, serve in a deep bowl topped with the cilantro garnish.