Kachin Pounded Beef with Herbs

By on November 3, 2013

This  is one  of the  most unusual and delicious dishes I have ever  come  across.  The beef  is first  cooked in  a little  water,  then briefly  fried  to firm  it up,  and finally  is lightly pounded to blend the  herbed flavor  paste into it. It sounds complicated, but it’s easy. The flavor  paste includes Sichuan peppercorns, a reminder that China and Kachin State share a long border, and that there’s been trade across it for centuries. In Myitkyina, people told me that they refer to Sichuan pepper as Kachin pepper. The  result is meltingly tender beef.  It’s  great served with drinks, seductively warming and deeply flavoured.

INGREDIENTS

about 1 cup water

1 to 11/4 pounds stewing beef or boneless beef shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into approximately 1-inch cubes

1 teaspoon ground sichuan pepper

1 scant tablespoon peanut oil or vegetable oil

FLAVOUR PASTE

1 tablespoon chopped ginger

2 teaspoons chopped garlic

2 dried red chiles, stemmed

1 teaspoon lightly toasted sichuan peppercorns

11/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup loosely packed Vietnamese coriander, coarsely torn or chopped, or substitute coriander leaves

DIRECTIONS

Pour 1/2 inch of water into a wok or wide  pot, add  the beef and Sichuan pepper, and bring to a boil. Cook at a low boil until the meat is tender, 20 to 30 minutes, decreas- ing  the heat gradually as the water evaporates. There should be very little liquid left. remove from the heat.

Place a heavy skillet or a wok over medium heat, add the oil, and tilt the pan to coat the cooking surface. add the meat and cook, turning occasionally, until all surfaces have changed color  a little, about 6 minutes. Set aside.

If you  have a large mortar, combine the ginger, garlic, dried chiles,  Sichuan pep- percorns, and salt and pound and grind to a paste. add the coriander and pound to incorporate it. add the meat and pound to blend the flavor paste thoroughly into the meat. (If your mortar is too small to accommodate all the meat at once, remove half the paste and then work with half the meat and half the flavor paste at a time.) The meat will soften and break down but should not be completely pulverized.

Alternatively, mince the ginger and garlic very fine  and set aside in a small bowl. Use  a spice  grinder or coffee grinder to reduce the dried chiles and Sichuan peppercorns to a powder. Stir  the powder into the garlic and ginger, then add  the salt and use the back of the spoon to blend them together. Chop the coriander fine and blend nto the flavour paste. Place the meat in a wide bowl, add the flavour paste, and use a wooden mallet or a wide wooden spatula to press and pound the flavouring into the meat. Serve at room temperature.

Excerpted from "Burma".  Copyright © 2012 Naomi Duguid. Published by Random House Canada, an imprint of the Knopf Random Canada Publishing Group, which is a division of Random House of Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

 

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