Chinese Clay-Pot Beef
1.5 kg/3 lb brisket of beef
3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Szechwan peppercorns
2 teaspoons sugar
6 slices fresh ginger
4 unpeeled garlic cloves
2 tablespoons Chinese rose wine
2 whole star anise
2 pieces dried tangerine peel
8 dried shiitake mushrooms
6 spring onions (scallions)
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
Bring to the boil some water in a pan large enough to hold the piece of beef. Lower the beef into the boiling water, return to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove and rinse under cold water and trim off any fat and gristle. Place on a board and with a sharp knife cut the meat into 1.5 cm (1 in) slices. Heat half the oil in a wok and fry slices of beef to brown both sides. Transfer to casserole or clay pot. Add roasted and ground peppercorns, sugar, ginger, garlic, wine, star anise and tangerine peel. Cover with lid or foil and place in a large steamer with about 5 cm (2 in) water. Simmer for 2 hours, replenishing water as required.
Soak mushrooms in 2 cups very hot water for 30 minutes. Squeeze out water. Cut off and discard the mushroom stems and cut caps into quarters. Cut spring onions into short lengths.
Heat a wok and add remaining oil. Fry the spring onions and mushroom caps for 2 minutes. Then add meat together with any liquid in the bowl. Remove star anise and tangerine peel. Add wine and soy sauce, cover wok and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with steamed rice.
Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)