Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Chinese Hot Pot of Beef and Vegetables

Gardein's beefless tips are the perfect size for using in beef stews, whether you cook with classic American flavors, add novel twists to old favorites, venture down to South America, or - in this case - take a cue from the flavors of the Far East. If you're short on time, you don't need to simmer the stew a full hour in step 3, as Gardein doesn't need that long to cook. I like the long simmer so the flavors have extra time to blend (especially the cinnamon), but 20 minutes is all you technically need.

  • 4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
  • 1 and 1/2 pounds frozen Gardein beefless tips (about 5 and 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon crushed aniseed*
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 and 3/4 cups vegan beef broth (prepared from Not Beef bouillon)
  • 2 and 3/4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vegan brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sherry**
  • 2 teaspoons chile paste with garlic***
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 cups (1-inch) peeled and cubed turnips
  • 1 and 1/2 cups baby carrots
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 8 cups fresh spinach
1. Heat 2 teaspoons of the canola oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add half of the beefless tips and cook for about 6 to 7 minutes, until browned.  Remove from the pan and repeat with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and remaining beefless tips.  Remove from the pan.

2. Add the green onions, ginger, aniseed, and garlic; saute for 30 seconds.  Stir in the beef broth and scrape the pan to remove any browned bits.

3. Return the beefless tips to the pan, along with the water, soy sauce, brown sugar, sherry, chile paste, and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 hour.

4. Stir in the turnips and carrots; simmer for an additional 45 minutes, until the veggies are tender.

5. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon water and the cornstarch.  Add the cornstarch mixture to the pot and bring to a boil; cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.

6. Add the spinach; cover and cook for a final 3 minutes - the spinach should be wilted.  Discard the cinnamon sticks before ladling into bowls.

Great accompaniments for this stew include warm French bread:

or Chinese noodles. Serve the noodles on the side, or add directly to the bowl:

*A mortar and pestle make quick work of crushing the aniseed, but you can also use a spice grinder.

**I prefer not to buy sherry for two reasons: a) because most companies filter their product through non-vegan ingredients, and it can be very hard to track down a bottle you're sure is vegan and b) because so many recipes call for just a tablespoon or so; because I'm not a sherry drinker, much of it goes to waste. Enter Napa Valley Natural's cooking sherry, which their FAQ specifies is vegan and which will keep for ages in the pantry.

***If you'd prefer more "hot" to your hot pot, use 3 teaspoons chile paste.

Nutrition Info:
6 servings (1 and 1/3 cups), Calories 359

Tasting Notes:
There is wonderful complexity to the broth - definitely spicy from the chile paste, but with hints of sweetness (the brown sugar and cinnamon), and great fresh ginger. The veggies are super tender and naturally sweet after cooking, which makes them the perfect foil for the savory beef. The spinach is a must, adding lovely freshness, and keeping this dish from seeming too heavy.  A bowl of pure comfort.


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