Braised Beef In Chinese Master Brine (卤牛腱子)
1 hour 5 minutes
Beef shank has lots of silver skin, which is usually tough, but once braised properly, it becomes very delicious and gelatinous. The flavor of the Chinese master brine is the soul, which is very complex and unique. In my hometown, we have specialty stores that sell all kinds of Luwei (卤味), which is a category word to describe all the foods that are braised in the Chinese master brine. Lu Niujianzi (卤牛腱子) is my number one craving dish in my childhood.
I made a video about Chinese Master Brine (Lushui 卤水) last year. If you miss that video, you canclick here to check it out. It is a savory and aromatic brine infused with abundant Chinese spices and aromatics and seasoned with soy sauce, salt, sugar, rice wine, and other seasonings.
This recipe is a follow-up to show you how to use Chinese master brine to braise any meat you want so you can understand how delicious the food will come out and how the flavor develops over time.
- To Braise the meat
- 2.5 lbs of beef
- 2 slices of sand ginger
- 1 star anise
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 white cardamom
- 1 piece of gardenia pod
- 2 cloves
- 1/2 tsp of white peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp of fennel seeds
- 2 tbsp of Sichuan peppercorn
- 1/4 cup red dried chilies
- 2 inches of ginger, smashed
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 2 scallions
- 2 liters of Chinese Master Sauce (Lushui 卤水)
- 3 tbsp of soy sauce
- 1.5 tbsp of dark soy sauce for the color
- 2 tbsp of Chinese cooking wine
- 2 tbsp cup of rock sugar
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- To make the dipping sauce
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 2 tbsp of the seasoned sweet soy sauce (四川复制酱油)
- 1/3 cup of the braising liquid
- 3-5 tbsp of homemade Sichuan hot chili oil
- Cilantro as garnish
Asian Clay Pot
- Fill a big pot with water and add the beef shank. Turn the heat to high. Partially cover the pot. It takes about 10-15 minutes to come to a boil.
- During this time, gather all spices and aromatics that are listed in the ingredients. It is ok to use a few less or more depending on what you have on hand.
- Drizzle in a couple of tbsp of oil to a clay pot. Stir all the spices and aromatics for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant. Pour in 2 liters of the Chinese master brine and bring it to a boil.
- When the beef pot come to a boil. Turn off the heat and transfer the beef directly into the clay pot.
- The master brine is already salty and has lots of flavors. Taste it then add soy sauce, salt, dark soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine, and rock sugar to adjust the flavor. It should be a lot saltier compared to your normal taste, so it can infuse the flavor into the meat. Turn the heat to the lowest and simmer for 2 hours.
- Remove the beef from the clay pot. Chill it in the fridge overnight.
- Reserve 1/3 cup of brine for tomorrow to make the dipping sauce. Then save the rest of the brine for the next use.
- To the dipping sauce, grate 5 cloves of garlic finely. Add the braising liquid that we reserved, a few tbsp of Sichuan hot chili oil, and 2 tbsp of the seasoned sweet soy sauce. Mix well and set it aside.
- Take the beef out of the fridge and slice it thinly. Serve with a little bit of cilantro and the dipping sauce.