Beijing-style beef stew

It’s early August now, and normally we’d be heading into the hottest time of the year. Except that 2012 continues not to disappoint with it’s weather weirdness: it’s in the 70’s this whole week, with nights that are much cooler. And that explains why I’m hauling out a cold weather recipe while the summer vegetables are still fresh at the farmer’s market. Soon enough we’ll be back to the summer heat, but in the meantime, here’s a foretaste of the wonderful winter weather to come.

Previously on this blog, here, I posted a recipe for lamb stew with carrots. Tonight’s recipe is quite similar but using beef and potatoes instead. Rather than cry foul because the underlying spices are so similar, instead I will take pride in being able to show the kinds of variations that are possible when you tailor your recipe to the ingredients you have available.

The beef and potatoes add nice structure to this dish, and the chiles add some volume, but the cassia bark and star anise are the major players in the flavor.

Beijing-style beef stew

Beijing-style beef stew


  1. 1 lb beef, cut into 1″ cubes
  2. 4 cloves garlic (minced), 1″ ginger (unpeeled, cut into about 8-12 thin slices), 1/2 red onion or one shallot (sliced)
  3. 4″ cassia bark (snapped into 1″ lengths, substitute cinnamon bark), 3-4 whole star anise, 5-8 dried red chiles
  4. 1 cup chicken stock, 2 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine, 1 Tbsp each dark and light spy sauce, 1 Tbsp sugar, stirred until the sugar is dissolved
  5. Some small potatoes, equal to about half or 2/3 the volume of the beef


  • Heat your wok until barely smoking, then add about 3 Tbsp peanut oil and swirl. When the oil is hot, add the beef and brown on all sides.
  • Add #2 to the wok (garlic, ginger, onion or shallot) and stir-fry for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Then add #3 (cassia bark, star anise, and chiles) and stir-fry for another 30 seconds.
  • Transfer everything to a clay pot (or heavy metal cooking pot).
  • Next, pour in #4 (chicken stock, wine, soy sauces, and sugar). Then add additional water until the beef is covered. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, for 60 minutes.
  • Add the potatoes and simmer, covered, for another half-hour. Then uncover and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the liquid starts to boil off, leaving a thickened sauce. Serve in the clay pot or transfer to a serving bowl.

Variations: The variations are endless. Substitute any starchy or heavy vegetable for the potatoes. Vary the amount of oil for the cut of meat you use; if the meat is fatty, use a bit less oil.

This entry was posted in Beef, Meat, Recipes, Stew and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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