There is an empty bottle of soy sauce, encased in a koozy, standing on the half wall between my cubicle and that of my longtime co-worker, Bj Lewis. Bj used to eat a lot of mandarin oranges. When he calls in his hamburger order for carry-out, he always has them put Swiss cheese on it. He doesn’t like chocolate. He never eats donuts when someone brings a dozen to the newsroom. He gets really cranky when election night dinner is pizza. (And we are always grateful when it’s barbecue instead.)
So, when Bj and his family had the kind of heavy/heady stuff going on that you just have to bring them a covered dish, a salad and dessert, this is what I made.
My mom took an Asian-style cooking class at Fox Valley Tech in 1976. This stew is a little easier than boeuf bourguignon, and just as tender and flavorful.
Braised Soy Sauce Beef
2 lbs. boneless chuck roast
1 T. soy sauce
2 T. sherry
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T. cornstarch
2 T. oil
2 scallions, cut into 2-inch sections
4 thin slices of ginger root
1/2 tsp. star anise
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. sugar
1 cup water
Trim the beef and cut into 1-inch cubes. Marinate in soy sauce, sherry, salt and cornstarch for 10-15 minutes.
Heat a dutch oven until very hot, add oil, brown half the beef over moderate heat. Stir to seal on all sides. Remove from pan, repeat with remaining beef.
Return the beef to the pot, add scallions, ginger, anise, sugar, soy sauce and water. Mix and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 hours until meat is tender and about 3/4 cup of liquid is left. Watch the liquid level and add more water if needed.
Remove the star anise before serving over rice.
If desired, add two or three carrots that you have trimmed and cut on the diagonal in about 1-inch slices during the last 20 minutes of cooking.