Sichuan Spicy Beef Pot

I first ate this in Sichuan restaurants and loved the breathtaking simplicity and hot, nutty flavour the chilli bean paste brings. The hot numbing sensation of the chillies and peppercorns is pretty special too.

I first cooked this dish from Fuchsia Dunlop’s Sichuan Cookery — it’s a truly great book and, like anything from her, very insightful. By the way, this spicy broth with some fish, prawns or squid waved through at the end would be delightful as well.

Ingredients

  • 400 g (14 oz) tender lean beef, cut into slices 3–4 cm ( inches) thick
  • 185 ml (6 fl oz/¾ cup) peanut oil
  • 10 dried long red chillies, halved lengthways and deseeded
  • 2 teaspoons Sichuan pepper
  • 2 celery sticks, cut into 4 cm ( inch) julienne
  • 1 small leek, cut in half lengthways, then cut into 4 cm ( inch) julienne
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), cut into 2 cm (¾ inch) lengths
  • sea salt
  • 90 g ( oz/1 cup) bean sprouts, trimmed
  • 3 tablespoons chilli bean paste
  • 750 ml (26 fl oz/3 cups) fresh chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce

Method

Heat a wok until it just starts smoking. Add 3 tablespoons of peanut oil and stir-fry the chillies and Sichuan pepper over medium heat until fragrant and the chillies are just beginning to brown — don’t blacken them. Immediately remove from the wok and allow to cool, then chop finely.

Reheat the wok, add 3 tablespoons of peanut oil and stir-fry the celery, leek and spring onion for 2 minutes, adding some sea salt to taste. Tip the vegetables straight into a serving bowl and sprinkle the bean sprouts on top.

Heat another 3 tablespoons of peanut oil in the wok. Add the chilli bean paste and stir-fry for 30 seconds until the oil is fragrant. Add the stock and the dark soy sauce and, when boiling, fold in the beef slices. Wait for the sauce to return to the boil and stir. Simmer for a minute and pour over the vegetables.

Wipe the wok and return to the heat. Heat until almost smoking and add the rest of the peanut oil. Add the chopped chillies and stir quickly, pour over the beef and send your sizzling beef to the table.