“My father loved beef,” recalls Mrs.
This is a stew that begs to be combined with noodles. It is too soupy for rice, and, although it can be, and often was, diluted and served as a soup, it is so rich it needs starch as a foil. The resulting combination, beef stew with noodles, is a Szechwanese classic. Mrs.
Fortunately, water buffalo isn’t essential; any regular cut of stewing beef will produce essentially the same savory stew. Like all long-simmered Chinese dishes, this can be conveniently made in advance, reheated when necessary, and even frozen. Combined with noodles, it is the kind of filling food we like to serve as the focal point of a winter evening meal or even, since you can double or triple the recipe, an informal dinner party. It is not a particularly hot or spicy dish; the hot pepper paste merely offsets the richness of the sauce.
You can make a similar beef stew by substituting beef for pork in the recipe for hongshao rou, or Red-Cooked Meat. It will produce a richer, sweeter stew with a pleasant anise flavor.
Cut the beef into 2-inch cubes.
Peel the ginger, then chop it coarsely into pieces the size of a pea.
Smash the garlic cloves with the flat side of your cleaver, then peel, but don’t chop.
Clean the scallions, then chop two of them, both the green part and white, into tiny pieces, about the size of a match head; leave the others whole.
(garlic and ginger) (the whole scallions) (beef) (beef) (chopped scallions)
Heat your wok or pan over a moderately high flame for 15 seconds, then pour in the oil. It should be hot enough to cook with when the first tiny bubbles form and a few small wisps of smoke appear.
When the oil is ready, throw in the garlic, chopped ginger, hot pepper paste, Szechwan peppercorns, whole scallions, and beef. Stir-fry these ingredients over a fairly high flame for 1 minute, using your cooking shovel or spoon to scoop the ingredients from the sides of the pan and then stir them around in the middle, so every piece of meat is exposed to the hot oil.
Add the sugar and soy sauce and continue stir-frying the contents of the pan for 2 more minutes.
Pour in enough water to cover the meat and bring it to a boil. Then lower the flame, cover the pan, and let the meat simmer for about 1-½ hours, or until it has become very soft.
About 15 minutes before you are ready to eat, prepare the noodles according to the directions on the package.
When the beef is thoroughly cooked, taste the broth for seasoning. Then add the salt. Sprinkle the beef with the chopped scallions and serve.
(garlic and ginger)
(the whole scallions)
The best way to serve this dish is to put each person’s portion of noodles in a soup bowl and place the beef on top of the noodles, making sure everybody gets a generous helping of the sauce.
Like any long-cooked Chinese dish, this one can be made in advance and reheated just before serving. You can also double the recipe without any serious side effects-and you can even freeze it, as you would any Western-style beef stew.
© 1976 Ellen Schrecker. All rights reserved.