Here are two great Asian beef dishes - one requires patience, the other speed.
After a disappointing first try at making Beef Rendang a couple of weeks ago, this recipe is a winner, adapted from RasaMalaysia's Easy Asian Recipes. Rendang is a Malaysian/Indonesian stew, made with fragrant spices and coconut milk, simmered slowly until the sauce is reduced to a luxurious gravy. Don't make this if you're in a hurry - it will take at least 1 1/2 to 2 hours to tenderize the beef and thicken the gravy - but it is guaranteed to be well worth your patience!
700g beef rib cap, or boneless beef short ribs, cubed
(use a cut of meat with some marbling, a lean cut will become too dry and tough)
3 tablespoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
1 lemon grass, halved and pounded once
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
2 teaspoons tamarind pulp
(soak tamarind paste in water, mash and remove seeds, then strain)
(if not available, you could substitute this with lime juice)
6 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
6 tablespoons dessicated coconut, dry-fried until lightly toasted
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 - 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
for the spice paste:
5 shallots, chopped
1 inch piece galangal, peeled and chopped
3 lemongrass stalks (white part only), chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
10 dried red chilies (soak in warm water and seeded), chopped
Blend spice paste ingredients until very fine.
In a casserole or other heavy bottomed pot, fry the spice paste and 5-spice powder in oil until fragrant. Add the beef and lemongrass, and mix well with the sauteed spice paste. Pour in the coconut milk, tamarind pulp, and water. Stir well for about 5 minutes. Add the kaffir lime leaves, toasted coconut, salt and sugar. Mix well and let simmer on low, covered tightly, for about 1 hour.
Remove lid and let it cover the pot only halfway. Continue simmering on low for another 45 minutes to an hour, stirring the beef occasionally. Turn off the heat once the meat is tender and the gravy is almost reduced (this will continue to thicken as the dish begins to cool down). Adjust your salt and sugar to taste.
Serve with steamed rice. Save some for leftovers the next day - the flavors intensify overnight!
The second recipe is for Stir-Fried Beef with Kailan (Chinese Broccoli), adapted from Christopher Tan's cookbook Shiok! As with all stir-fries, once your prep work is done, cooking is done swiftly.
Stir-Fried Beef with Kailan
250g beef sirloin, sliced thinly
300g kailan (chinese brocolli)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons shaoxing wine
vegetable oil for frying
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons water
Wash and dry kailan, then cut into 2 inch lengths. Blanch vegetables in boiling water for maximum 2 minutes, then drain and dry well.
Mix cornstarch, soy sauce and 1 1/2 tablespoons shaoxing wine. Pour marinade onto beef and mix well.
Pour oil in a wok and heat until just smoking. Fry garlic and ginger, and immediately add beef, stir-frying quickly so the pieces separate and cook evenly.
Add the remaining wine, oyster sauce, sesame oil, pepper and water, mix well. As soon as the sauce thickens, add the blanched kailan and toss well with the beef. Serve immediately with steamed white rice.