Spicy Sliced Mixed Beef in Chili Oil Sauce



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Spicy sliced mixed beef in chili oil sauce is a very traditional and popular dish in Southwest China area.  The weather is extremely hot and humid in summer time there, so local people have been developed a unique spicy cuisine to spice up regular daily food to be more appetizing.

According to legend, local poor working class people couldn’t afford expensive beef cuts like steak or ribs.  They collected what was left or unwanted beef parts from market; boiled them for a long time until they got tender enough to eat; thinly sliced, tossed them with soy sauce and red chili oil sauce.  The dish got popular because it was quite affordable and surprisingly tasty.  Years later, a local food stand run by a couple further adapted and perfected the dish by adding more complicated chili sauce; substituted beef lung with beef shank.  So people named the dish after this couple.  Don’t be surprised if you see “couple’s beef” on a Chinese restaurant menu.  That is how the dish got its name.  A Sichuan restaurant Twin Peppers in Houston even name the dish “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”.   Interesting, isn’t it?

I still call it spicy sliced mixed beef in chili oil sauce to avoid any possible confusion.

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For beef boiling:

1 beef shank
2 large pieces of beef tendons
1 small piece beef tripe
1 large piece of ginger root, cleaned and rinsed, smashed
3 to 4 dry chili peppers
1 small piece of cinnamon bark
2 star anises
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
3 to 4 cloves
1 black cardamom
3 to 4 pieces of dried ginger
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon rice cooking wine
salt to taste  



Clean and rinse beef shank, tendon, and tripe under running cold water.  Pat dry with kitchen paper towel

Wrap all the spices with a piece of coffee paper filter. Tie it up.

Fill a 4 quart cast iron/ stainless steel soup pot with water.  Add beef shank and tendon.  Cook over high heat until it boils.  Keep cooking over high heat for about 10 minutes.  Skim any bubbles or impurity on the top with a large spoon.

Add ginger root, rice cooking wine and spice bag to the pot.

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Cover with lid.  Reduce heat to simmer until the beef is soft and tender.

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It takes about 4 to 5 hours.  You can use a chopstick to test if the beef is ready.  If the chopstick can easily pierce through the center of beef shank and tendon, it means they are ready.  If not, continue cooking for another half an hour or so.

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Drain the beef.  Reserve the broth for later use.  Refrigerate beef shank and tendon for 3 to 4 hours.  When the beef is chilled, it becomes firm and tight, easier to slice.

Using a sharp kitchen knife, thinly slice beef tendon and shank

Beef tendon tends to bounce back when being sliced, so you need to be very careful.

Beef shank is very pretty on the inside

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Chili oil sauce

I make it from scratch.  But you can buy them from any Asian grocery store. 

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Besides chili oil sauce, cooked soy sauce is also very important to the dish. I adapt the recipe from http://bbs.wenxuecity.com/archive/2005/cooking/298864.html, many thanks to the original author

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Ingredients for cooked soy sauce:

1 cups of soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
3 to 4 cloves
1 small piece cinnamon bark
1 black cardamom
2 to 3 star anises
1 to 2 bay leaves
1 small piece of ginger root

Add all the ingredients to a small sauce pan

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Cook over medium heat.  When the soy mixture boils, reduce to as minimum heat as possible to simmer for 40 to 60 minutes.

Remove from heat.  Cool it down under room temperature.  Cover with lid and store in refrigerator.  

I double the amount of this recipe because I use this cooked soy sauce a lot.

Thinly slice the beef tripe, blanch it in boiling water for a couple minutes.

Add thinly sliced beef tripe, tendon and shank to a large bowl, along with: (http://bbs.wenxuecity.com/archive/2005/cooking/298864.html, many thanks to the original author.)

1/2 cup beef broth
1/2 cup chili oil sauce
3 to 4 tablespoons cooked soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn oil
salt to taste
chopped/ sliced celery
crushed roasted peanuts

Gently toss all the ingredients in a large bowl with a big spoon.

Doesn’t is look tasty?  O(∩_∩)O~

Tossed beef can be served immediately.  I like to set it aside for another half an hour before serving it.  The extra time will help all the spices to mix better.  The flavor will be more smooth and harmonious.

 Sprinkle the top with crushed peanuts and serve.

It is spicy for sure.  Other than that, there is also a savory, sweet and umami flavor all mixed with delicious beef.   Mixed beef is from different part of beef with taste and texture of their own, chili oil sauce is the one that brings everything together and makes the dish so tasty. 

If you haven’t tried it before, you might never know inner beef can be so delicious too. ( ̄▽ ̄)”

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