3-4 lbs grass-fed beef chuck roast, cut in 2″x2″ cubes
1 tbs sichuan peppercorns
2 tsp black peppercorns
2 whole star anise
20 whole small dried hot chiles (I use Tien Tsin peppers)
4 cloves garlic, sliced
8 – 1/4″ thick slices ginger
1 small onion, diced
1/4 c olive oil
1 tbs toasted sesame seed oil
3 tbs tomato paste
3 tbs soy sauce
3 tbs oyster sauce
3 tbs brown sugar
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes (I use my home canned ones, but organic canned are also good)
stock or water
In a dutch oven, brown the beef cubes on all sides in olive oil in batches. Do not crowd the pan or the beef will steam instead of fry and brown. As the cubes are done browning, set them aside in a bowl.
In the remaining oil in the pot, add the toasted sesame seed oil and hot dried chilis. Sauté until they smell toasty (don’t burn!) and remove the peppers to the bowl with the beef, leaving the extra oil behind.
Now add the Sichuan peppercorns, black peppercorns and star anise to the hot oil. Quickly sauté the spices over medium heat until fragrant. Remove all the spices to a separate bowl, leaving most of the oil in the pan. In a small square of cheese cloth (or a tea ball) add the spices and tie up the little bundle so no seeds will fall out. Set the bundle aside with the beef.
To the pan add the garlic, ginger, onion and tomato paste. Sauté until the vegetables are softened and the mixture begins to pick up the fond (browned bits) from the pan.
Add the reserved beef, chilis, spice bag, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, tomatoes and any accumulated juices from the meat. Add stock or water to the meat just until covered. Bring the liquid to a boil then turn to down to a low simmer with the lid just open a crack. Simmer the meat 2-3 hours until it’s very tender.
Serve the beef stew with fresh crunchy mix-ins like shredded cabbage and carrots, cilantro, bean sprouts and radishes. Freshly cooked noodles would also work beautifully in this soup.