The Taste of Beef – Beef Yuan Mei

After the Plain Chicken you’re ready for beef. Of course, the beef is plain, too. The recipe is ridiculously simple – that hardest part was taking the bus to the Paulina Meat Market, to buy a 2 lb piece of beef shin. Removing the tough outer membrane and any embedded fat was also not without difficulty – all I can say is, use a really sharp knife. Here’s a photo of the process:

You can see the outer membrane at the left – it should come off in a long ribbon –  and one piece of shin meat. The connective tissue running through the meat is okay to leave. Here’s the completed dissection:

Cut the pieces into regularly-sized chunks, and place in a heavy pot. Add 1 cup dry sherry and 1 cup water. If you have it, you can substitute Chinese rice wine (Shiaoxing) for a portion of the sherry (I used 3/4 cup sherry and 1/4 cup Shiaoxing). The liquid should cover the meat. Cover tightly and set over the lowest flame for 3 hours, or until the meat is tender. Serve in bowls with some of the wine stock poured over it:

To go with the beef, I cooked a favorite dish from the Time-Life Chinese cookbook: bok choy in a creamed sauce with ham. Sliced bok choy is tossed in a wok with some chicken fat, over high heat. Then it’s sprinkled with salt and sugar, and cooked until tender with chicken stock (here’s where the stock from the Plain Chicken comes in handy!). Then, using a slotted spoon, you remove the bok choy to a plate. Add cornstarch mixed with a little milk to the liquid in the wok, and cook until thick. Then you pour that over the bok choy and top with a good handful of diced ham. This is the most delicious way to eat bok choy ever invented!

For dessert we had very ripe Honeydew melon that tasted great – very juicy and sweet. It was a great meal, and very Chinese.

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