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Chinese beef

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abcdefg

I've been continuing to work with Chinese beef since it's the meat that gives me trouble here. Pork and chicken are easy. Chinese beef is not. 

 

Have been cooking it carefully twice a week. Documenting steps; analyzing failures and successes. Writing everything down. Studying and researching Chinese beef. Trying to work out several dependable recipes for making it tasty and tender. 

 

Eventually I'll write a longer summary post that might be useful to others as a reference.

 

Part of what I've learned so far is the importance of selecting the actual piece of beef with care. Then that particular piece of meat must be matched to a cooking method that is designed to make it good to eat. Cannot just toss it in a pot or wok and hope for the best. 

 

Here are some of the dishes I've tried. Have made each of them several times, testing variations, discussing them with local friends.  

 

Beef curry with rice. Made with real coconut milk. 

 

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Red cooked beef 红烧牛肉。Made with daikon radish 败萝卜。Served with rice noodles 米线 and zucchini squash 小瓜。

 

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Red cooked beef 红烧牛肉 as a hearty soup with spinach 菠菜 and corn 玉米 served over fresh egg noodles 蛋面。

 

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Sir-fried beef slivers with jiucai 韭菜炒牛肉丝。Served with fresh egg noodles 蛋面。

 

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Recipes, techniques and tips will follow eventually, once I get it all worked out. These four dishes are just a preview, just a look behind the scenes. 

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DavyJonesLocker

I must pay attention to the cut I am using . However I am inclined to think that imported Australian , new Zealand beef is better than Chinese beef even when the same cut is considered. Not 100%  on this one yet. I also find some supermarkets just do better beef so supplier is probably quite important too. 

 

 

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abcdefg
6 hours ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

However I am inclined to think that imported Australian , new Zealand beef is better than Chinese beef even when the same cut is considered.

 

Yes, I think you are right. 

 

I never had to be all that careful (or compulsive) when I made a beef stew or something similar in the US. I just bought a package of inexpensive pre-cut meat at the supermarket and moved right along. Came out fine most of the time. Was surprised to find that it's not always that easy here. 

 

Quote

I also find some supermarkets just do better beef so supplier is probably quite important too. 

 

Agree! 

 

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Wurstmann
6 hours ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

However I am inclined to think that imported Australian , new Zealand beef is better than Chinese beef even when the same cut is considered.

Probably because Chinese beef is mostly from water buffaloes and yellow cattle.

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abcdefg
11 hours ago, Wurstmann said:

Probably because Chinese beef is mostly from water buffaloes and yellow cattle.

 

An old lady at the beef counter in Walmart told me that some of the beef there was water buffalo. I wasn't sure if she was kidding or tipping me off. That would go a long way to explaining the difference between this beef and what I am used to in the west. 

 

But I hadn't heard about "yellow cattle" 黄牛。Didn't know what they were. I Googled it: very interesting. Seems they started out as draft animals, like the water buffalo, and have only in relatively recent years been adapted to supply meat. 

 

Quote

Southern Yellow cattle are small, sturdy animals with good heat tolerance and parasite resistance. They have been used primarily for draft animals, but are now being selected for meat production, as well.  (Wikipedia) 

 

It's looking more and more like Chinese beef is an unpredictable mix of draft animals, milk cows, and animals raised for meat, with quite a few being allegedly "multi-purpose." How much of the animal's weight comes from grazing on pasture grass and how much from other sources? Are they fed steroids, antibiotics, and so on? I also have no idea whether or not cattle here are "fattened up" in feedlots before slaughter.

 

Maybe I need to start buying imported beef (or stick with pork, chicken, and fish.) Half my Chinese friends are vegetarians. They might know something that I don't. 

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DavyJonesLocker
29 minutes ago, abcdefg said:

It's looking more and more like Chinese beef is an unpredictable mix of draft animals, milk cows, and animals raised for meat, with quite a few being allegedly "multi-purpose." I also have no idea whether or not cattle here are "fattened up" in feedlots before slaughter. Are they fed steroids, antibiotics, and so on? 

 

 

Well that's a worry, the pressure is on the government to feed the people so I think food regulations or at least enforcement thereof would be lacking.

 

Chicken is pretty bad  here. As it's used in dishes, the lack of basic flavour is compensated for but if you try roast one with just a few herbs, the difference becomes readily apparent. Also the water that comes out of them is somewhat off putting.

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vellocet

Where do you find basic cuts!  Sirloin, where do all the sirloins go?  My butcher shops near me have chuck, round, and leg meats, which I didn't even know was a thing before I translated the meaning.  Where's the good stuff? Certainly at no wet market or supermarket butcher I've ever been to. What do they do with the rest of the cow?  I thought they got whole sides of beef in.  I guess not, because cuts from whole pieces of the cow are missing. I can find imported beef but boy is it expensive and small.

 

I just give up on beef entirely.  Even though it's my favorite meat.  I'd rather have other meats that are better than put up with substandard beef.  

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Balthazar
41 minutes ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

Chicken is pretty bad  here

 

What kind of chicken do you usually buy? I've had excellent 土鸡 from the local markets. The 肉鸡, on the other hand, has been average. (Here's a zhihu on some of the differences.)

 

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Bibu
2 hours ago, abcdefg said:

But I hadn't heard about "yellow cattle." Didn't know what they were. I Googled it: very interesting. Seems they started out as draft animals, like the water buffalo, and have only in relatively recent years been adapted to supply meat. 

 

黃牛 i guess you referring. That is the cattle everywhere in China, but I thought it origins  in yellow river region and through the long history spread out to all China.

 

In lot  of places along yellow river 30-40 years ago in countryside, people do not eat beef unless the cattle is too old to work. As a northerner, we do not have too much dishes with beer , that is the reason: all cattle is for working in the field.

 

It is very clearly noted in Chinese history,   the cattle is not allowed be eaten by law. The person who eat beef would be killed in before Han dynasty. Though beef still not allowed to be eaten, the punishment getting loose and loose. 

 

Since Song dynasty, especially in south China, eat beef is not a big deal anymore. In Fujian and Canton dishes, you can see beef quite often, they are savages people per the northers before Song dynasty, LOL.

 

@abcdefg you city might still keep the classic spirit: NO EATING BEEF, LOL

 

 

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abcdefg
7 hours ago, vellocet said:

I just give up on beef entirely.  Even though it's my favorite meat.  I'd rather have other meats that are better than put up with substandard beef.  

 

I'm coming to that conclusion too. 

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abcdefg
On 7/19/2019 at 9:32 PM, DavyJonesLocker said:

Chicken is pretty bad  here. As it's used in dishes, the lack of basic flavour is compensated for but if you try roast one with just a few herbs, the difference becomes readily apparent. Also the water that comes out of them is somewhat off putting.

 

I am able to find flavorful free range chicken that does just fine with simple roasting. 土鸡 I buy from a supplier that does not cheat by "watering it up" to add extra weight. (A common practice with beef too.) I often buy from someone who sells live birds. Kills and cleans them to order while you wait. 

 

Here's a recipe for simple baked chicken that comes out well. I've made it many times. 

https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/57244-salt-baked-hakka-chicken-in-a-rice-cooker-电饭煲焗鸡/ 

 

But, as with the beef, there are several kinds of chicken. Need to buy the proper type to match up with an appropriate recipe for best results. And if you are using a specific chicken part, such as leg or breast or wing, need to select a suitable cooking method. 

 

If I don't buy the right kind of chicken or select the best cooking method of a specific part, the dish is still usually passable, although not great. Seldom if ever tuns into a complete disaster, unlike beef. Chicken requires some care, but I've pretty well mastered it, at least at a basic, non-professional level. It's beef that has had me baffled and knocking my head against the wall. But now I'm beginning to understand why.   

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abcdefg

This is why savvy Chinese housewives always handle the meat before buying. They pick it up, press a finger knuckle or a thumb deeply into it to see if it oozes water or makes a squishing sound, trying to find out whether it is firm or spongy. Waterlogged meat has a distinctive feel when squeezed or prodded. Of course that method isn't foolproof, but it helps some. I've learned to do it too,under the tutelage of local friends. Allows me to eliminate some vendors, saves some grief. 

 

Similar issue is why I nearly always shop for vegetables early in the day. They are not injected with water as in the video, but the vendor sprinkles them all through the day to keep them looking fresh and to give them eye appeal. It also makes them heavier, which adds to his profit margin. Towards the end of the day, after being sprinkled 20 or 30 times, the vegetables start to change inside and have less "crunch." It affects their texture and cooking characteristics. 

 

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