I love the Five Spice mix. It's taste and the whole idea of five different flavours being five different energy fields: wood (sour), fire (bitter), earth (sweet), metal (spicy), and water (salty). Like the concept of yin and yang, the Five Elements Theory is at the cornerstone of Chinese culture. I am not an expert so please find some books or other materials related to this subject. I simply love the taste of this spice mix, even I not entirely sure what is included. Some of them have cumin, some not, others will contain cardamom, and use of pepper is not sure to me: Sichuan or black peppercorns? Nevermind. I get it ready from a shop and do not worry too much about making my own. Not yet, anyway.
I found this recipe in last "Good Food" magazine and I found it very interesting. Sticky, sweet and spicy, very tender meat is something that I fancy a lot, so I pressumed (and I was right) that this will be an ideal meal for me. I did not use exact quantities. I used brasing steak as they are quite cheap, there is no point of buying more expensive cuts as after two hours of brasing, the meat will be very tender anyway.
2 braising beef steaks, each about 200g, cut into four pieces
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 onions, peeled and quartered
1 piece of fresh ginger, about 3cm, peeled
3 garlic cloves, peeled
small handful of fresh coriander (leaves + stalks)
2 tsp Five Spice
1 whole anise star
1 tsp black peppercorns, smashed in the mortar
2 tbsp of soft, brown sugar
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp tomato puree
about 250ml beef stock
Heat the oven to 140 C (fan).
Place the onions, ginger, garlic, most of the coriander (save some leaves for garnishing) in the food processor and whizz until smooth paste.
Heat the oil in an ovenproof pan, season beef chunks with some salt and fry oon both side, over a high heat until browned. Then remove from the pan and set aside in a bowl.
Add the whole paste to the pan, and fry for about 2 minutes, rinse the food processor with some water and add the remaining pf the past with the water to the pan. Add star anise, Five Spice, pepper, both soy sauces, sugar, tomato puree and stir. boil for about one minute and next add the beef with it's juices and the stock. Turn the heat down, cover and bring it to boil, then place in the oven.
After 2 hours check if the sauce is not dangerously reduced and close to burn, if so add some more stock. I braised my beef for about 2.5 hrs in low temperature.
Serve it with some cooked basmati or jasmine rice, garnished with some coriander leaves and fried ginger. it is perfect to finish off some Asian dishes.
1 piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 tbsp sunflower oil
Heat the oil in a pan, over a high heat. Add ginger and stir fry until crispy and golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and rain the excess of fat by putting the ginger onto a paper kitchen towel for a while. Serve immediately.