Sichuan Mouthwatering Beef (Ma La Niu Rou)
Author: Karen Christensen
This beef is best served cold either as an appetizer or in combination with other cold dishes.
  • ¾ lb. (325g) stewing beef or beef shin, boneless and in one piece
  • 2 oz. (50g) ginger, unpeeled, cut into thick slices
  • 2 spring onions, crushed slightly
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 piece of cassia bark, or 1/3 of a cinnamon stick
  • ½ tsp. whole Sichuan pepper
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 Tbsp. shaoxing (rice) wine
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • [i]For the Sauce[/i]
  • ¼ tsp. ground roasted Sichuan pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. light soy sauce
  • 3–5 Tbsp. chili oil, with its sediment, to taste
  • ¼ tsp. sesame oil
  • [i]To serve[/i]
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds (optional)
  • Handful of fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. finely sliced spring onion greens
  • 1 celery stick, de-stringed and finely chopped
  • Good handful of fried peanuts, roughly chopped or crushed with a mortar and pestle
  1. Rinse the beef very thoroughly in cold and then hot water to remove any blood (under the tap will do). Then place in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Skim the liquid.
  2. Then add the ginger, spring onions, spices, shaoxing wine, and salt, and return to a boil. Cover and cook over a very low flame for about two hours.
  3. When the beef is cooked, set it aside to cool, reserving 1/3 cup (75 ml) of the cooking liquid. (The beef and liquid can be kept in the refrigerator for a few days. The leftover liquid can be frozen and re-used on another occasion to give a spiced flavor to firm tofu, hard-boiled eggs, peanuts, chicken wings, beef, or offal of your choice.)
  4. Gently toast the sesame seeds, if using, in a dry wok or frying pan for a few minutes, until they are fragrant and starting to turn golden, then tip into a dish.
  5. To serve:When you wish to serve the beef, cut it into fairly thin slices and place in a serving dish.
  6. If the reserved beef cooking liquor has become jellied, let it stand at room temperature or gently warm it through until it is liquid once more, then allow to cool a little.
  7. Combine all the sauce ingredients with the beef cooking liquor in a small bowl, mix well and pour over the beef, scatter over the other ingredients and serve. Give everything a good mix and invite your guests to help themselves.