I've experimented with braising beef loads of times, and I now have different recipes depending on mood and season. When the weather turns cooler, I look for something bold, that wallops you in the face, spicy and warming, like the classic Sichuan red-braising. Other times, I want the broth to be clear, light and as cleansing as beef can be and so aromatic spices only are used, like here.
This recipe straddles the two. The sauce is thick and luscious, and the flavours simple and unchallenging. It uses Chu Hou sauce, which you can buy at Chinese supermarkets (or online here); it's made using soybeans, sesame oil, ginger, garlic and spring onion - it's basically a flavour bomb. You do need to augment it with fresh, though. This sauce is used for braising and stewing meat, and it gives an incredible umami flavour to whatever you're making. You can serve the beef with noodles or on rice.
Chu-Hou Braised Beef Noodle Soup
1kg beef brisket, chopped into large bite-sized chunks (I often use half beef tendon instead)
1 medium daikon, peeled and roll-cut
2 star anise
3 slices of peeled ginger
3 spring onions - chop 2 roughly, and 1 finely into rings
3 tbsp Chu Hou paste
2 litres of water
2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp cornflour slaked with 1 tbsp water
A small piece of yellow rock sugar
1 tbsp cooking oil
Blanched pak choi or choi sum, to serve
Ho fun noodles or rice, to serve
Place the beef in a pot of boiling water and simmer for 3 minutes, then drain.
In a wok, heat up the oil on a medium heat and add the ginger, roughly chopped spring onions and stir-fry until aromatic. Add the paste, then add the beef chunks in and stir well. Add the 2 litres of water, the oyster sauce and the yellow rock sugar and simmer very gently for 2 hours. Add the daikon in and simmer for a further 40 minutes.
Add the light soy and the cornflour and simmer for a further 2 minutes, then take off the heat. Add the noodles to a deep serving bowl per person and place blanched leaves around the edges. Avoiding the star anise, ladle the beef and daikon into the bowls, then ladle enough sauce in so that the noodles are bobbing, but not drowning. Garnish with spring onion rings.