In red-cooking, the Chinese method for making stew, meat is first seared in oil. Then seasonings are added with boiling water and the meat is simmered until tender and richly flavored. Here, the technique results in a mouthwatering stew that’s at once homey and exotic. Serve it with rice to soak up the marvelous broth.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 lb. boneless beef chuck, cubed (1 1/2 inches)
1/3 cup dark soy sauce or regular soy sauce*
2 green onions, quartered
1 (1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
2 star anise
1/2 cinnamon stick
3 tablespoons dry sherry or white wine, if desired
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
3 cups boiling water
10 dried shiitake mushrooms
3 medium carrots, roll-cut**
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
1. Heat large pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add oil; heat until hot. Add beef, in batches if necessary; cook 6 to 8 minutes or until browned on all sides. Reduce heat to medium; stir in soy sauce, green onions, ginger, star anise, cinnamon stick, sherry, hoisin sauce and brown sugar. Cook and stir 3 minutes.
2. Stir boiling water into beef mixture. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
3. Meanwhile, place dried mushrooms in small bowl; add enough hot water to cover. Let stand 30 minutes; drain, reserving soaking water. Pat dry. Remove and discard stems; halve or quarter mushrooms.
4. Stir reserved soaking water, mushrooms, carrots and salt into stew. Cover and simmer 30 minutes or until meat and vegetables are tender.
5. In small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 3 tablespoons water; stir into beef mixture. Increase heat to medium-high; bring to a boil. Boil until slightly thickened. Remove star anise and cinnamon stick.
TIPS *Dark soy sauce is thicker and less salty than the soy sauce usually found in American supermarkets. It’s aged longer, and the color is very rich. Look for it in Asian markets, where it’s also labeled “soy superior.” Mushroom soy is a flavored soy sauce that also can be used.
**To roll-cut carrots, place peeled carrot on work surface; cut on diagonal at the small end. Roll carrot a half turn; cut another slice on the diagonal. Repeat to end of carrot.
4 (1 1/2-cup) servings
PER SERVING: 610 calories, 34.5 g total fat (11 g saturated fat), 45.5 g protein, 28.5 g carbohydrate, 130 mg cholesterol, 1430 mg sodium, 3.5 g fiber