I have fond memories of this braised Cantonese five spice beef shank. This was usually served as an appetizer platter for many auspicious celebrations and especially as the first of twelve courses for weddings. My mother-in-law used to make it occasionally as a special treat.
This braised Cantonese five spice beef shank is thinly sliced and consumed in small quantities, like deli meat! It is especially good, wrapped in a Chinese scallion pancake with cilantro and my favorite, pickled cucumbers for crunch!
Tips for making braised Cantonese five spice beef shank.
For this recipe, a boneless, whole beef shank is the ideal cut. One that's not cut into sections. Do not get the bone-in beef shank that's cut into "steaks" for several reasons:
- The meat easily falls apart during braising.
- The meat shrinks during braising, making it difficult to cut.
- You cannot slice the cooked meat against the grain which results in a tougher slice.
- The entire shank includes tendon and ligaments in the meat which adds to the texture of the cooked meat.
Browning the beef shank.
Eventhough the beef will be cooked in a sauce for a long time, the beef shank is browned before braising to release the flavor compounds of the proteins in the meat. In kitchen science, this is called the Maillard reaction. However, if you are pressed for time, you can omit this step because of the strong flavor of the soy sauce mixture.
Saucepan or instant pot.
This braised Cantonese five spice beef shank can be made in either a saucepan or instant pot. If the beef is not totally submerged under the soy sauce mixture when braising, turn the beef onto the other side half way through the cooking process. Braising the beef in a saucepan takes approximately four hours, depending the thickness of the meat. It will take forty minutes plus in an instant pot.
Slicing the beef.
When the beef has been cooled, after being refrigerated, slice the beef thinly against the grain of the muscle fibers to ensure tenderness. Serve these braised Cantonese five spice beef shank slices as an appetizer plate, a side-dish or serve in a Chinese pancake as a braised beef roll.
Whichever way you serve this braised Cantonese five spice beef shank, it will be delicious. Let me know what you think in the comment section.
CANTONESE FIVE SPICE BRAISED BEEF SHANK
- 1.5 kg large piece of bonelss beef shank
- 4 cups chicken soy sauce mixture to cover meat from soy sauce chicken recipe
- 1 Tbsp cooking oil.
- ¼ cup Shaoxing Chinese cooking wine
Soy sauce mixture from scratch
- 2 cups LIGHT soy sauce
- 2 cups water
- 2 Tbsp DARK soy sauce
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ Tbsp Chinese five spice powder optional
- 2 star anise
- 1 small cinnamon stick
Combine soy sauce from soy sauce chicken recipe
- Cover meat with sauce from soy sauce chicken recipe4 cups chicken soy sauce mixture
- Add Shaoxing Chinese cooking wine¼ cup Shaoxing Chinese cooking wine
Make soy sauce mixture from scratch
- Combine ingredients in saucepan or instant pot¼ cup Shaoxing Chinese cooking wine, 2 cups LIGHT soy sauce, 2 cups water, 2 Tbsp DARK soy sauce, ¾ cup sugar, ½ Tbsp Chinese five spice powder, 2 star anise, 1 small cinnamon stick
Making beef shank in saucepan
- If sauce does not cover entire piece of meat, braise for 2 hours on one side, flip shank and braise for 2 additional hours.
Making beef shank in instant pot
- If sauce does not cover entire piece of meat, pressure cook for 20 minutes flip shank and pressure cook again for 20 minutes. Otherwise, pressure cook for a total of 40 minutes.