The Chinese have plenty of ways of cooking their version of a 'beef stew'. The Taiwanese and Sichuanese add a bit of spice to theirs with chilli bean paste, to make a rich, red broth - I have a recipe in Chinatown Kitchen, using ox cheek. At one of my favourite noodle shops in Hong Kong, Kau Kee, they only sell beef - brisket, tendon and 'slices'. You can get it in clear soup or in curry soup - both are incredible. I also like cooking the beef in Chu Hou sauce, which is made with fermented soybeans, ginger and garlic.
1kg beef brisket, cut into bitesize chunks
500gr beef bones (optional)
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed with the side of a cleaver
7 slices of ginger
2 spring onions, whites and greens separated, both chopped finely
2 star anise
1 stick of cinnamon, or cassia bark
1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
1 lump of yellow rock sugar, about 10gr
1.5 litres of water
3 large turnips or mooli, peeled and sliced into bite-sized chunks
1 tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp salt
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the brisket, bones, 3 slices of garlic and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain the water away and rinse the beef pieces, as well as the saucepan well to get rid of the scum.
Return the saucepan to the stove and heat the oil. Add the garlic and remaining ginger and stir-fry until fragrant. Add the beef pieces and bones, then sprinkle in the cooking wine. Add the cinnamon, rock sugar, star anise and the salt, then the water. Bring to the simmer and simmer for 1.5 hours with the lid on. Alternatively you could put this lot in a pressure cooker and cook at pressure for 15 minutes.
Next, add the turnips and cook for a further 40 minutes (5 minutes in the pressure cooker).
Carefully drain the broth into another saucepan, and discard the beef bones. Reduce the broth for 5 minutes on a rolling boil, then add the whites of the spring onions and take off the heat, returning the turnips and beef to the pot.
Serve with rice, or ladle over cooked noodles to serve. I cooked rice noodles and cavalo nero for the opening shot, served with chilli oil.