This beef stew uses soy sauce, wine, bay leaves, chili, curry powder, and tomato paste to create a balanced and rich flavor without overpowering the taste of the beef. None of the spices stands out too much. It’s neither a curry nor tomato flavored dish, but tastes much better than the combination of the two.
Although most people from the US and Europe find it unappealing, beef tendon is a favorite cut in Asian cuisines. Why on earth would you put beef tendon in stew? The short answer – it’s delicious. The long answer – if cooked properly, beef tendon becomes tender and moist. Some of the tendon will even dissolve into the broth, which increases the richness and creaminess of the stew and contributes wonderfully to the flavor. The final result is a literal melt-in-your mouth sensation. This recipe teaches a good way to cook beef tendon, one that makes beef stew taste even better.
If by any chance you get your hands on some beef tendon, instead of writing it off as inedible and throwing it away, you could try experimenting with it by following the recipe below.
On the other hand, if you have a really strong aversion toward beef tendon, you can still use this recipe without the tendon. This will still result in a very flavorful and rich Asian style beef stew.
Before jumping into the recipe, here are a few tips that will help you prepare this dish properly:
1) Boil the tendon and discard the boiling water before braising. This is a must. Raw beef tendon is quite smelly. If you cook it in a dish directly, the dish will end up with an unpleasant (even stinky) smell.
2) Simmer the tendon in a pressure cooker for 30 minutes to reduce braising time. The tendon part is so tough that it takes many hours to braising on stove top.
3) Boil the beef before braising and save the broth. I like to keep the broth because it’s quite flavorful. However, if the broth smells bad (due to the freshness of the beef), discard it and use fresh water for the braising process.
4) Only add non-salty spices in the beginning. Add salty spices (including soy sauce) when the beef starts to get tender, about half way through the braising process. If you add salt at the beginning, it will toughen up the beef and require more braising time.
5) Use enough broth to cover the beef, and simmer on low heat until the beef becomes soft, then turn up the heat to reduce the broth toward the end. If the broth is reduced too much, it will get thick very fast and start to burn at the bottom of the skillet (or wok). Don’t forget to stir the stew several times while simmering, and add extra broth if needed.
6) Store the stew in small containers in the freezer after the stew has cooled down. You can enjoy the stew whenever you want, during the week or packed for lunch. For a quick dinner, simply throw in some vegetables (carrot, potato, broccoli etc.) into the stew and boil them together. A healthy and filling stew will be ready on your table in less than 30 minutes.
This is one of the recipes from my Mom’s Best series. In this series, I collect family recipes handed down from my grandma to my dad, then to my mom, and now, to me. In the same series, you can also find Mom’s best braised pork spare ribs, Mom’s best braised pork feet, Mom’s best braised duck leg and Mom’s best braised chicken stew with mushrooms. More family recipes are on the way!
I also made a short video to walk you through the cooking process. It was the first time that I recorded a video with voice, and I was super nervous! I hope the video isn’t too awkward. 😉 Also, be sure to check out my cooking channel on YouTube. It contains a collection of videos which help you learn Chinese cooking skills in a straightforward way!
Mom's Best Beef Stew with Tendon
- 2.4 kilograms (5 pounds) beef plate , cut into bite-size cubes
- 0.8 kilograms (1.5 pounds) beef tendon , cut into bite-size cubes
- 4 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
- 6 chili peppers , dried
- 1 and 1/2 thumbnail ginger , divided into 3 thick slices, slightly smashed with a knife
- 15 centimeters (6 inches) scallion , chopped (2 centimeters /1 inches in length)
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons curry powder
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 4 teaspoons salt
- Place beef tendon in a pressure cooker and add water to cover beef completely. Place on high heat until rated pressure has been reached. Turn to lowest heat. Simmer at rated pressure for 30 minutes. Turn off heat and allow the pressure to release naturally.
- While simmering the beef tendon, prepare beef plate. Add beef plate into a large pot and add water to cover the meat. Bring to a boil over high heat. Turn to medium-low heat and keep a gentle boil going for 10 to 15 minutes. While boiling, skim the foam from the top of the broth and discard it. Turn off heat. Use a colander to transfer beef to a wok (or a large dutch oven). Let the soup sit about 10 minutes, then pour the soup into the wok until it covers the beef completely. (There may be some clotted blood on the bottom of pot. Try to avoid pouring it into wok.) Save the rest of the soup in the pot and set it aside for later use.
- Heat the wok over medium heat. Add Shaoxing wine, chili pepper, ginger, scallion, bay leaves and black pepper (* see footnote) into wok and simmer, covered, for about 40 minutes. The beef tendon should be ready at that point.
- Transfer beef tendon from the pressure cooker to the wok, and discard the broth.
- Add curry powder, sugar and tomato paste into wok and mix well. Simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes, until beef starts to become more tender.
- Add dark soy sauce, light soy sauce and salt into the wok. Mix well and simmer, covered, for one hour to one hour and a half (simmer time varies depending on the cut of beef). While simmering, stir the beef several times. Scoop the beef from the bottom with a spatula, to avoid burning it on the bottom of the pot.
- After 20 minutes, watch the beef more closely and adjust the seasoning. If the liquid is becoming thick, but the beef is still tough, add more broth (from step 2), half a cup at a time. The liquid should be able to cover half of the beef. However, do not add too much water at the end of simmering, when beef is already soft.
- When simmering has finished, adjust the seasoning again. The beef should be very tender and the soup quite thick. If the soup is not thick enough, boil uncovered over medium heat. Stand near the wok and stir constantly until soup thickens.
- Serve warm with steamed rice.
- The beef stew will stay good in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month.
- To store the beef stew for your lunchbox or dinner during the next two weeks, place stew in a small bowl (2 to 4 servings per bowl) and set aside. After the stew has cooled down to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator, until stew has congealed and can easily be easily taken from the bowl. Store the blocks of stew in individual ziplock bags in the freezer.
- To make a one-dish meal, you could add beans, potato, tomato, carrot or broccoli into the stew and boil them together, until the vegetables are cooked through.
- I used a mesh tea infuser ball to trap whole black pepper. It'll be easier to take them out after the braising and discard.