Give yourself something to look forward to: get this beef dish in the oven early and let the exotic ingredients work their magic in time for dinner. Braising meat on the bone gives so much more flavour to the final product, but you could also do this recipe with diced beef shin, or any other cut good for braising. If braising on the bone, ask your butcher to cut from the middle of the shin. This dish would work beautifully in a slow-cooker.
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2kg piece beef shin, on the bone
1 tsp sea salt
1 large brown onion, diced
1 piece star anise
1 stick cinnamon
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
¾ cup Shaoxing wine*
2 tbsp Chinese light soy sauce
2 tbsp Chinese dark soy sauce
1 cup Chinkiang black vinegar*
50g rock sugar, crushed
1 1/2 tbsp chilli bean paste
2 cups chicken stock
coriander and crispy-fried onions, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
2. Add oil to a deep frying pan big enough to fit the beef shin and place on a medium-low heat.
3. Season the shin with salt then add to the pan. Colour on all sides until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from the pan and reserve.
4. Add onion, star anise and cinnamon to the pan. Sweat for about 5 minutes, then add garlic and cook for a few more minutes.
5. Add Shaoxing wine, scraping the bottom of the pan, then add both soy sauces, black vinegar, sugar and chilli bean paste. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 2 minutes. Add stock, bring to a simmer, then check seasoning.
6. Transfer the beef shin into a casserole dish or heavy-bottomed oven tray. Carefully add sauce - it should cover half to three-quarters up the shin (add a little boiling water if needed), then cover tightly with foil or a lid. Cook in the oven for 6 hours, until the beef falls off the bone easily.
6. Remove from the oven, allow to sit for 20 minutes. Carefully transfer the shin and sauce to a deep serving platter. Garnish with coriander and crispy-fried onions and serve.
*You'll find Shaoxing wine and Chinkiang vinegar at Asian supermarkets - the Chinkiang is more savoury and fragrant than balsamic vinegar, and makes a great dipping sauce.