Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Oriental Beef Shin & Oxtail Lettuce Wraps

Shin and bones

Slow cookers are like culinary prozac in the winter. They cure depression by making life taste better – transforming tough, scraggy meat into glorious works of edible art. Without Stewie Griffin (my slow cooker) I’d be a miserable git. But with him by my side, like a mechanical version of Ratatouille, I’m happier than a pig in a cesspit.

After successful experiments with lamb breast and oriental pork belly in wrap format, I decided to try a similar approach with beef. But instead of using pancakes to cocoon the meat I decided to use gem lettuces as boats. This also made them suitable as a starter with the lettuce lending the crunch that the soft beef lacked in comparison to the crispy lamb and pork.

This makes for a fantastic, inexpensive starter to eat communally at a dinner party. Or could play the role as a main course. The beef itself would also make a fantastic filling for oriental dumplings or with some noodles and a stir fry.

Ingredients to feed 10 as a starter:

1 shin of beef
4 pieces of oxtail
Star anise
Half a jar of five spice
Knob of ginger
2 chillies
1 stick of cinnamon
300ml Chinese cooking wine
100ml dark soy sauce
150ml mirin
1 cucumber
A bunch of spring onions
4 gem lettuces




Cut up the shin into thumb sized pieces. Season. Then brown the shin and oxtail and place in the slow cooker. Do this in batches so it caramelises rather than stews.

Pour the liquids into the pan to deglaze and burn off the alcohol in the mirin and wine. Then add the five spice, star anise, ginger, cinnamon and chili to help them mingle. After a minute or two pour this mixture over the beef in the slow cooker and let it cook gently for 5 hours.

Once the beef is tender and pulling away from the tail, remove it and separate the meat from the liquid. Allow the meat to cool and then shred it.

Strain the liquid and reduce to a syrupy consistency. Add sugar to sweeten towards the end. You’ll probably need a couple of table spoons. But it depends how you like it.

Before serving slice the spring onions and cucumber thinly and wash the lettuces and take out the heart.

Beefy lettuce wraps

Arrange on a large serving plate and tuck in. The meat will be soft and incredibly tender with spicy layers that seem to love the freshness of the lettuce, cucumber and spring onion. You could do this with just oxtail, but adding shin ensures yo have enough meat to go around. The oxtail adds a silkiness to the meat and a glossiness to the sauce.

Oriental slow cooked beef

Further reading:

Chinese Oxtail with Asian greens
Bún bò Huế
Chinese Braised Oxtail Stew
Aromatic Chinese Oxtail Stew
Slow cooker recipes on The Paunch


Lizzie said...

Fantastic post - I bet your kitchen smelled amazing. Beef and star anise are such a match made in heaven too.

I have long been a fan of lettuce cups, and I think it's one of the only ways I enjoy Iceberg - they're good and sturdy.

Jonathan said...

@Lizzie - You're right. Star anise and beef are a great match. And the lettuce boats work well too.

natural selection said...

This all looks so delicious! I really enjoyed your post!

Paunchos said...

@natural selection - Man thanks! Was very delicious indeed.

ginandcrumpets said...

That beef looks delicious. I am sold on getting a slow cooker for next winter. It's clearly essential.

Paunchos said...

@ginandcrumpets - I don't know how people cope without a slow cooker. Especially if you've got to go to work. They are invaluable.


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