Tiffy Chen’s Braised Five Spice Beef

Braised five spice beef on a white plate
4 servings

This is my grandma’s secret recipe, which she perfected over decades. It may seem intimidating, but it’s seriously so easy to make! It tastes great with rice or noodles, and you can even enjoy it cold. Braised five-spice beef is a very popular appetizer at Taiwan street vendor stalls, and I’m here to bring it straight to your dining table.

Excerpted from Tiffy Cooks by Tiffy Chen. Copyright © 2024 Tiffy Chen. Photography and illustrations by Vanessa Wong. Published by Penguin, an imprint of Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.



star anise pods
fresh red Thai chilies, thinly sliced
Tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
bay leaves
cinnamon stick
cardamom pod (optional)
cups water, more as needed, divided
2 ½
pounds boneless beef shank, cut into 4 pieces
cup light soy sauce
cup dark soy sauce
cup rice wine
garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
(2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
1 ½
Tbsp sugar



For extra flavour, leave the braised beef in the sauce overnight in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat the beef before slicing.

Step 1

In a medium frying pan, combine the star anise, chilies, Sichuan peppercorns, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, and cardamom pod, if using. Toast over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Transfer the spices to a small plate and let cool. Place the spices in a spice bag. Set aside.

Step 2

In a large pot, bring 6 cups of the water to a rapid boil over high heat. Add the beef and blanch for 4-5 minutes, until the scum has floated to the top. Drain the beef and rinse with cold water. Wipe the pot.

Step 3

In the same pot, combine the light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, rice wine, garlic, ginger, sugar, the spice bag and the remaining 6 cups of water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Increase the heat to high, add the beef and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover with a lid, and simmer for 1½-2 hours, until the beef is soft and can be pulled apart with a fork.

Step 4

Remove from the heat. Discard the spice bag. Transfer the beef to a cutting board and cut crosswise into thin slices. Serve immediately on top of rice or noodles and drizzle with the broth.

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