Beef with orange peel [陈皮牛肉]

07Oct08

beef with orange peelWell, it has been a while, hasn’t it? I must say, after starting the site tokowijzer I really didn’t see the hype coming! The new site was very well received; we got a lot of good reviews and more visitors that kattebelletje ever had. I have spent many hours updating the site and making pictures. And I have been lurking in Chinese supermarkets for even longer times than before. I have tried many ingredients I wouldn’t have bought otherwise – and I have tried out more frozen dumplings than I have in the last 5 years!

This is one of the dishes I made with the ingredient orange peel, 陈皮牛肉 chenpi niurou. It is one of my favorite Szechuan beef dishes : it has a dark flavor, mildly spiced by the red dried peppers and with a very fragant flavor of the orange peel. The beef is chewy and has a sweet tinge. I used to use fresh tangerine peels, but stocking up on these dried orange peels is very easy, so all you need is a chunk of beef to get you going.

For this recipe you will need:

500 grams of braising beef (klapstuk, sukadelap)
6 to 7 slices of fresh ginger
4 dried chili peppers (the long pointy ones)
6 pieces of dried orange peel (Chinese shop)
Shaoxing rice wine
soy sauce (light and dark), sugar, rock sugar, salt

Cut the beef in bite size pieces. Slice the ginger. Snap the orange peel into smaller chunks. Fry the ginger, orange peel and dried pepper in a couple of tablespoons of oil until fragrant (careful, don’t burn!), then add the beef and brown on all sides. Splash with almost a cup of Shaoxing rice wine and add 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce (or a little more). Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and a walnut-size chunk of rock sugar and stir. Bring to a boil, take off the scum of the surface of the liquid, then put a lid on and leave on a slow simmer.

The beef has to simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours; check regularly to stir and to check if there is still enough liquid. Add a little water if needed. At the end of the cooking process taste the sauce and add more salt or soy if needed. For extra flavour you could add some orange juice, too. The beef has to be dark and the sauce has to cling around the meat – the rock sugar makes the sauce have a beautiful shine.

Take the beef off the heat, sprinkle on some sesame oil, and put on a plate. This dish can be eaten hot or cold: a perfect starter or a perfect dish for a Chinese meal – at least it is not a last-minute stir-fry to worry about. You can eat the pieces of orange peel if you like, they will taste of pepper and soy and beef. Lovely.

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