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Chinese Red-Braising Pork vs. Beef

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I would like to modify the NYTimes Red-Braised Belly Pork Shanghainese Style recipe to use boneless beef short rib meat. The recipe works fine with pork butt, so the remaining problem is spice changes, if any. The recipe uses 4 T crystal sugar, 6 slices ginger, 10 stalks spring onion, 2 t dark soya sauce, 2 T light soy sauce, 1 t chicken powder, 1/8 t salt, 2 T Shaoxing wine, 1 star anise, 1 t red fermented bean curd, and 1 black cardamom.

Would you change the ingredients in any way for beef?

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  1. While your recipe is different from any I've seen (e.g.fermented bean curd, chicken powder?), my impression is that the protein is interchangeable. That is, a similar sauce is used with chicken, beef, pork, and tongue. I just eyeball a mix of water, soy sauce, star anise (I like this a lot), spring onions, maybe a few dried mushrooms, and some ginger. Sugar, wine and black cardamom sound ok, though I've never used them in a red-cooked dish. Sometimes I've used the left over sauce from one meat with a different.

    1 Reply
    1. re: paulj

      The fermented red bean curd and black cardamom really put a fine finish on the dish. They definitely are worth seeking out and experimenting with.

    2. I reuse my master stock for different meats without changing seasonings. Each subsequent braise imparts its own character to the existing stock without detracting. The black cardamom is an interesting addition, not something I ever thought to combine with pork.

      1. I think you could probably interchange the meat, the key will be to use a really fatty beef cut that stands up well to long cooking- boneless beef ribs are probably a good choice.

        1. You can swap out pork for beef, but it won't taste the same. Rejiggering the spices won't matter too much either because, well, pork tastes like pig and beef tastes like cow.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ipsedixit

            I was hoping you would chime in ipse. You know, just to generate a little friction and light. Surely, one can marinate and braise long enough to strongly impart the flavor of the marinade into the meat. So, what changes would you make?

          2. I've never used the NYT recipe you mention, but a "standard" red dou fu braise often includes cassia bark. And for a "standard" all beef braise it is common to use: dried orange peel, cassia bark, clove, star anise, anise seed or fennel seed, sichuan peppercorns, licorice root, usually no chicken powder or scallion or red bean curd, but the rest of the ingredients similar to what you list above, but with a heavier dose of soy and a dried red chili.