Hot & numbing dried beef

The hot and numbing beef is one of my favourite Spice Temple dishes – I love eating it as a snack or with rice and boiled greens. These are two meat dishes that are worth the effort and require some skill in their execution, marking a good culinary challenge for the colder evenings.


  • Red braised brisket
  • 1kg trimmed beef brisket
  • 350ml Shaoxing wine
  • 175ml light soy sauce
  • 120g rock sugar 4cm ginger, smashed
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 shallots (green part)
  • 8 star anise
  • 2 quills cassia peel of ½ mandarin
  • Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • 2½ tbsp peanut oil
  • 4cm knob of ginger, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 160ml chicken stock
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 2 tsp roasted and ground Sichuan pepper
  • 4 tsp chilli oil
  • Sesame oil and finely sliced spring onions, to serve


Cover brisket with cold water and bring to the boil. Drain, discarding water. Rinse well and set aside. Combine all other brisket ingredients in a clean pot with 2½ litres cold water and bring to the boil. Add brisket, turn heat down to barely simmering and cook for about 4 hours, until fork-tender. Once cooked, remove brisket and refrigerate overnight. Save the stock to reuse.

When you’re ready to eat, cut brisket into 5mm-thick slices. In a wok, heat the vegetable oil to 180°C and deep-fry in small batches for 2 minutes, turning over halfway, until dark and crispy around the edges. Drain on a paper towel.

Wipe the wok clean, then place over medium heat and add the peanut oil. When the oil is hot, add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant, then add the brisket and the rest of the ingredients, saving some Sichuan pepper to serve. Cook until the sauce is thick and almost reduced to a glaze. To finish, transfer to a serving plate, drizzle with sesame oil and garnish with finely sliced spring onions, then serve with rice and steamed Asian greens.

NOTES: First published in the Good Weekend.