Life’s seasons and Chinese red braised beef noodle broth

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I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination. Jimmy Dean
A year ago I wouldn’t have known that life would’ve taken this different route.  I was blissfully ensconced in the Klein Karoo, back to my routes and living the Karoo life through food.  At that time it’s what I needed to do.  I am a creative being, whether it be in words, pictures, food creations, television creations…. a need to be part of the creative process in any shape or form.

One’s life is always in flux in some or other way.  I am a believer that we are in fact NOT made to be in ONE space for an eternity.  And space refers to places, jobs, relationships and any environment.  Life stays a journey and journey means to keep moving from one stage to another. Part of the journey is that it happens when the time is right.  If the road sign doesn’t point you to the other road, the time isn’t right yet.  That is what our life is made up of….seasons.  If mother nature is changing and acts in seasons, who are we as humans to fight this most natural thing?

We are made up of so many facets and with each specific season in our lifetime we tend to shift on our axis. The core stays the same.  Our foundation might stay the same, but changes happen; from slight to major ones.  And that because it has to……. the one season is done and we need to go to the next season in our journey.  Every little change can be a season changing.  Little things like routines changing, new people coming into your life – also are seasons.

But it starts with listening to the universe.  There are so many messages that passes us regularly; quietly and sometimes screaming at us to take the step to the next season.  But we always want to be in such control of what happens.  Next time your ‘gut’, as we like to call it, tells you something, why don’t you try and listen to it.  That ‘gut’ might just be pointing you in the direction of your new season.

This dish is in celebration of MY new season back in Cape Town, new creative environments, new people, and new challenges.  Naturally I lean towards my love for Chinese flavours when in celebration.  This is also perfect for the festive season – cooler or raining on your sea visit?  And it’s also a lot gentler on your body during this time when we tend to over indulge.

(Being a fan of Kylie Kwong’s food, I use her standard red braising liquid recipe as a start off point – but just simplify it to work with the ingredients available.)

Chinese beef noodle broth

Serves 4

Ingredients

Red braising liquid

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3 L Water

250 ml Shao Hsing wine (if not able to get it, use a sherry)

250 ml (1 cup) soya sauce

125 ml (1/2 cup)  Brown sugar

6 Garlic cloves, crushed

1 thumb size fresh ginger, minced

5 whole star anise *

2 large cinnamon quills *

(*Tip:  I don’t like the spices floating around in the broth.  So place the spices in a clean cheese cloth or any other white cloth and tie it up with string.  You can also use a tea strainer.  When the stock is done, you can then just remove the bag of spices.)

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250 ml Spring onions (I used onion fronds from the garden)

1 kg Beef shin (you can use any stew meat, it will just affect the time that it cooks)

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The vegetable garden’s onions also supply these wonderful fragrant fronds that you can use

Ingredients to serve 

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150 g Sliced mushrooms

250 g Green beans, steamed

80 g Spring onions (diced), for serving

Coriander 250 g, for serving

250 g Egg noodles, cooked as per packet instructions (when the noodles are cooked, just toss it in a bit of peanut oil to keep it separated and it adds the nice flavour of peanut.)

Chili oil (see below how to  make your own)

Method red braising liquid

Place all the red braising ingredients in a pot, bring to the boil.  Turn down to a simmer and let it cook for 1 and ½ hours or until the meat is nice a soft.  (I used the pressure cooker, and it took 30 minutes to get the meat soft and create this beautiful fragrant broth.)

In the mean time you can prepare all the vegetables, noodles and chili oil for serving.

Chili oil:  Simply take a good sunflower oil (or any tasteless oil), add 2 tsp of chili (dried or fresh) to the oil and let it infuse.  I do this, as not everyone in my family can eat spicy things.  So now, those who can, can simply add a couple of drops to the final dish for a kick.

To serve

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Remove the meat from the braising liquid and cut smaller or simply pull apart as it should be soft.

Adjust your stock to taste.  Add some more soya sauce if you need to.  Then just add all the vegetables to the broth and let it just cook through for another 5 minutes.

Dish noodles in the bowls and top with beef shin, stock and the different vegetables.

Serve with a good spoonful of spring onions and top with some fresh coriander.

For the spicy guests a couple of drops of chili oil should give a great kick.

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Max is back on the web

Max is back on the web

Max is back on the web

 

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