Time: 20 minutes.
Sze Chuan food fever have been spreading across the globe like wildfire over the recent years. The most distinctive feature of Sze Chuan dish (四川菜) is mala (麻辣), the numbing, tangy and spicy feelings in your mouth. The recipe I am introducing today is one of the most prominent Sze Chuan dish in China – Beef Hot Pot (水煮牛肉).
There is a few things to take note in this dish: The hot numbing feeling from Sze Chuan pepper and spicy flavour from the chillies should be at the about same level. The beef slices should be well cooked, but not to that point that they harden due to overcook. The vegetables used should be well cooked, free from their raw stenches while their juiciness remain sealed until eaten.
To be honest, the steps are not complicated at all, but the execution and timing are rather crucial. Although this is not a dish for individual with some basic cooking skills should worry about, I have some doubts for complete beginners in the kitchen. Regardless, the failing rate should be greatly reduced if you follow this recipe closely.
Ingredients (2 pax):
- 300 g beef (not that much of fat)
- [Adjustable] 1 grab of chillies (灯笼椒)
- [Adjustable] 1 grab of dried chillies (干辣椒)
- [Adjustable] 2 tsp of Sze Chuan pepper (四川花椒)
- [Adjustable] 3 tbs of chilli powder (辣椒粉)
- 150 g of garlic sprout (蒜苗)
- 150 g of Chinese celery (芹菜)
- 1 tbs fermented bean paste / doubanjiang (豆瓣酱)
- 1 tbs ginger, diced
- 1 tbs garlic, diced
- 1 egg white
- Corn starch
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp chinese wine
- White pepper
1. Put in chillies, dried chillies and Sze Chuan pepper into a heated pan with 3 tbs oil. Turn it down to low flame and saute them till the fragrance are released and they got a little crispy.
[Caution: You might be coughing, hard]
2. Take the chillies out and place them on a chopping board. Diced them up into pieces as shown below (The smaller, the better). This is known as fried chillies (刀口辣椒) which are commonly used in Sze Chuan dishes. Put them aside for now.
3. Chop the vegetables into 3 cm length each. Using the same frying pan, stir fry them over high heat for about 2 minutes. Season with salt and put in a serving pot for now. You do not need to cook the vegetables completely now.
4. Next, slice your beef into 2 mm thick slices. Season with salt, pepper, soy sauce and Chinese wine. Massage them in a clockwise direction for 2 minutes. Next, mix the egg white thoroughly with 1 tbs corn starch and pour into the beef. Give them some light massage until the beef absorb almost all of the seasonings.
5. Heat up the pan again with 3 tbs oil. Add in the fermented bean paste / doubanjiang and start stir frying it till it releases its fragrance. Stir fry with some ginger and garlic for another minute. Add in half of the fried chillies and saute for a while. Pour in 2 cups of water and bring them to a boil.
6. Turn the heat down to a simmer. Put in the beef slices one by one. You have to be quick at this part to prevent uneven cooking of the beef slices. Let them cook for around 2 minutes and add in corn starch solution to thicken the broth. Mix well.
7. Without wasting any time, pour the broth into the hot pot containing vegetables. The remaining heat from the broth will cook the vegetable completely in the mean time.
8. Sprinkle the remaining fried chillies (刀口辣椒) and chilli powder on top. Add some spring onions (and additional diced ginger/garlic) on top of the chillies.
9. Heat the pan again. Add in 4 tbs of oil and heat them till it starts to fume slightly. Pour them over your hotpot. This will further stimulate the aroma of the chillies (garlic and ginger too) and spring onions.
10. Your Sze Chuan Hot Pot (水煮牛肉) is now prepared. Serve them with some steamed white rice and beers! I find this as a perfect way to spend my winter ala Chinese style!
What do you think of our recipe? Comment below and share them with us!