If you are not familiar with sichuan peppers and their delightful numbing effect, then this may be a good recipe to try. The level of pepper spice is relatively mild but there is certainly no point to leaving them out; there are other beef stews you could make which don’t have the spice.
Yi’s original recipe allowed for radish to be substituted for the potato. We like the way the potato soaks up the flavour of the liquid and releases starch which thickens the sauce. Little sticks of pickled radish are delicious, though, as they brighten the savoury flavour.
Meanwhile, separate meat and whole spices. Discard spices and reserve meat warm wrapped in foil.
Potato; peeled and cut into ⅘" / 20 mm cubes
Add to pan and bring to boil.
Cook over high heat until liquid has reduced and potato is tender, about 30 minutes.
Reduce heat to low and allow mixture to cool, about 5 minutes.
Add meat to pan to gently reheat. Stir carefully to combine.
Add to pan and stir carefully to combine.
Divide stew among serving plates.
Scallions, finely sliced
Radish, lightly pickled, cut into matchsticks
A*: Any tough cut will do, such as chuck roll, chuck tender, brisket or shank. Keep the meat in large pieces until they have been browned.
E☨: The chilli bean paste is called doubanjiang (辣豆瓣酱) and can be found in most Asian supermarkets as well as Amazon. It is an important part of this recipe’s flavour.
F: We are not sure about the necessity of using whole spices instead of ground. The original recipe uses them whole. One adaptation might be to make a fine powder of all the spices; or, make a broth by combining the stock and spices and infusing them sous vide in the fridge for 12 hours at 3°C / 37°F then straining the liquid before cooking the meat.
Blanch, dry and cool meat. Brown the meat. Prepare the spice mix.