Chinese Daikon Brisket Stew 清湯蘿蔔牛坑腩
By Ellen L.Published: 2015-10-30Finally we here in Hong Kong have felt the cool soothing touch of the occasional autumn breeze! As usual, it's been a long, hot, humid summer and we're just crazy glad that the weather has cooled down enough to allow us at times to live with open windows and no air conditioner blasting away. The change in the weather been so uplifting in a way (silly me, I know!), that I have been inspired to start dreaming of warm, fortifying autumn dishes for our dinner table. This Chinese Daikon Brisket Stew, or 清湯蘿蔔牛坑腩, is one of those comfort dishes that fills you up heartily, tastes just yummilicious with tender beef and meltingly soft daikon swimming prettily in a clear soup that will give you strength to fight against the autumn chills.
Daikon, or 白蘿蔔, is a mildly spicy radish that cooks down beautifully to a very tender, melting almost translucent yumminess. This is a great vegetable to go into a chinese stew but one must be mindful of the distinct flavor of the daikon and match it accordingly. In this case the beef and and daikon are a match made in culinary heaven. Two simple ingredients that complement each other perfectly with little need for anything else. Goes great with pork stews as well, and makes a great Chinese pickle 酸瓜 and for festive times try our Chinese New Year Radish Cake 蘿蔔糕!
When buying your daikon, look for unblemished white skin that looks fresh and smooth, not wrinkled or puckered. A good daikon should be heavy in your hands, indicating a still juicy interior. You can find daikon at your local Hong Kong wet market, sometimes at Hong Kong supermarkets, or at your local Asian food store.
The beef brisket used in this dish is a cut of beef that Hong Kong cuisine is quite famous for. Walking down almost any street you can find lots of small noodle shops serving up their tasty versions of beef brisket noodle soup or even curry beef brisket. YUMMY!
The cut that we used for our Chinese Daikon Brisket Stew is the brisket navel end, or 牛坑腩, which is the best most flavorsome bit of the brisket. This cut is also known as the boneless short rib, second cut brisket, or brisket deckle. Marbled through with fat and connective tissue, a long slow cooking of this flavorful cut of brisket results in the break down of the connective tissue into a lovely gel, leaving you with a gorgeously tasty, absolutely melty juicy piece of beef!
And to insert some gentle flowery fragrance to our lovely stew we add in star anise and sichuan flower pepper. The star anise is a spice that works wonders with any chinese meat stew, adding depth and a sweet licorice kick. I love the chinese name for star anise, 八角, which translates into "Eight Corners." What a fun name!
The other spice we used is the sichuan flower pepper, or 花椒, is a specialty of the Sichuan province. This delicate pinkish spice looks rather the way that black peppers look except that the pods are opened out like little flowers in bloom. I guess that's where they got their name. The taste of sichuan pepper is not peppery like black peppers, however, but rather it has a slight lemony flavor and a very interesting numbing sensation. In this dish we don't add a lot of sichuan pepper, just a bit to give it a citrusy note.
However, if you eat something very strongly spiced with sichuan pepper (like the famous Dandan Noodles 擔擔麵) you will find that your tongue is nowhere to be found halfway through your bowl of noodles. If it is done right that is. Unfortunately, most of the time the Dandan Noodles I eat in restaurants in Hong Kong taste more like peanut/sesame sauce noodles. Meh...
If you're partial to warm hearty beef stews, please do give this dish a try! Be sure to get the right cut of beef and the cooking is longish but easy peasy. Before you know it you'll be loving this tasty warming, fortifying Chinese Daikon Brisket Stew as much as we do!
Chinese Daikon Brisket Stew Recipe 清湯牛白腩
1.5 lb beef brisket navel end 牛坑腩 (680g)
1 tsp oil
1 tsp sichuan flower pepper 花椒
2 star anise 八角
1 1/2 tbsp rock sugar (or raw sugar)
1 large daikon radish 白蘿蔔
salt to taste
1 tbsp spring onions, chopped to rounds
3 tbsp cilantro, roughly chopped
Slice brisket against the grain into 1" thick strips. (Don't cut the brisket to bite sized pieces until later, this will help lock the flavor in.) Heat your wok until you can see heat rising. Add in the oil, then the brisket. Over medium heat, fry brisket until golden brown spots appear. flip and repeat for the other side. Add enough water to cover the beef by 1 inch, add in the star anise, sichuan pepper and sugar, then let cook for 2 hours over low heat, checking at intervals and adding water (boiling water) as necessary.
Meanwhile wash, peel and roll cut the daikon into bite sized pieces. At the 2 hour mark of the brisket cooking, add in your daikon and let cook over low heat for another 1/2 hour or until the beef is tender and the daikon soft. There should be approx. 2-3 cups of stock still in the pot. Add salt to taste.
When finished cooking remove the brisket and slice into bite sized pieces before piling on to your serving plate. Pour the rest of the daikon and soup over the brisket and top with a generous sprinkling of chopped spring onions and cilantro.
More Meatilicious Comfort Dishes at The Hong Kong Cookery:
Braised Soy Sauce Chicken Wings & Potato 土豆燒雞翅
Wuxi Spareribs 無錫排骨