In the bitterly cold months of winter, there is nothing more comforting than having a pot of stew bubbling away in the background while you go about your to-do list. One of my favourite one-pot dishes is red cooked beef, which I slurp up happily over rice or noodles. Red cooking (红烧) is a classic Chinese technique of braising meat, or even tofu, in soy sauce, rice wine and rock sugar. The soy sauce thickens while the sugar caramelises, creating a beautiful glossy sauce that’s a deep mahogany colour – the reason behind its intriguing name. Aromatics and spices like ginger and star anise are added to the braise; I also like adding mandarin peel to mine for a citrusy fragrance.
Tougher cuts like beef shin are perfect for this dish, as the long cooking process breaks down the tough fibres, resulting in meat so tender it almost melts in your mouth. Make sure to keep the bones; they create a stock as they simmer away with the meat, imparting the braising sauce with even more body and flavour. Bonus: these (unjustifiably) less popular cuts are also cheaper, making it a great one for the budget-conscious family.