Cold com­fort

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TASTE - By JANE F. RA­GA­VAN

BRAISED dishes and stews are of­ten re­ferred to as cold-weather food. That’s never sat well with me – so what if we’re this warm-all-year-round lit­tle coun­try, why shouldn’t we get to en­joy heav­ier meals more suited for tem­per­ate zones?

And so I braise and stew when­ever I like and eat my stodge with­out it hav­ing to be fuel against the cold – I get the oc­ca­sional night sweats, but I’m none the worse for it. But with the cold northeasterly winds blow­ing in from Main­land China and the Sleep­ing Sun phe­nom­e­non caus­ing tem­per­a­tures to drop to a chilly 25°C in Pe­tal­ing Jaya, there’s no bet­ter time for me to get out the old cast-iron Dutch oven and braise away!

I have used whole Man­darin or­anges in my beef dish to get ev­ery bit of cit­rus flavour from them, af­ter which they are dis­carded. They are stud­ded with cloves, which helps to cor­ral the spice – cloves are flavour bombs but I find it un­pleas­ant to bite into one when I am en­joy­ing my meal.

A note about the cut of beef for this dish: use brais­ing steak, such as top­side or some of the fat­tier parts. Short ribs are good too.

Asian-style Braised Beef With Orange

Serves 5-6 2 Man­darin or­anges 15 cloves 450g brais­ing steak (see in­tro above), cut into 3cm cubes 1 tbsp all-pur­pose flour 2 tbsp black vine­gar 2 tbsp soya sauce 1 tbsp Chi­nese rice wine (op­tional) 1 tsp whole Szechuan pep­per­corns, ground 1½ tbsp tomato purée 1 large clove gar­lic, minced 2 medium onions, peeled and cut into wedges 2 cin­na­mon sticks 4 whole star anise 1 beef stock cube 300g yam (taro) Cook­ing oil Cel­ery leaves ( daun sup), finely chopped

Drain most of the oil from the same pan and add the gar­lic and onions. Sauté briefly, then add the com­bined sauce, cin­na­mon and star anise. Let it come to a boil and re­turn meat to the pot; add just enough wa­ter to cover the cubes.

Stir in the stock cube and drop in the two clove-stud­ded or­anges. Cover the pot, bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to low and sim­mer, cov­ered, un­til the meat is ten­der and the sauce has thick­ened, 60 to 90 min­utes. Scrape the bot­tom of the pot now and then so there’s no stick­ing.

Mean­while, peel the yam and cut into 1cmthick wedges. Scoop out the or­anges into a large sieve placed over the pan. With the back of a wooden spoon, press them to ex­tract the juice. Dis­card the mashed or­anges. Taste the sauce and ad­just sea­son­ing.

Add the yam to the pot, cover and cook un­til ten­der, another 10 to 15 min­utes. Sprin­kle beef with cel­ery leaves and

serve with steamed rice.

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