Dinner recipe: Braised five spice beef from the 'Tiffy Cooks' cookbook

A delicious beef recipe to add to your repertoire

Image for Dinner recipe: Braised five spice beef from the 'Tiffy Cooks' cookbook
Images provided by Penguin Random House.

If you're looking for a "wow" main dish for your next gathering of family or friends, look no further than this slow-braised beef dish that's as wonderfully aromatic as it is delicious.

The recipe comes courtesy of Tiffy Chen's soon-to-be-released debut cookbook Tiffy Cooks: 88 Easy Asian Recipes from My Family to Yours. As the title implies, the book showcases 88 interesting Asian recipes along with charming anecdotes and cooking tips from the popular blogger and TikToker.

Image for Dinner recipe: Braised five spice beef from the 'Tiffy Cooks' cookbook

"While I was writing this cookbook, I asked my food photographer Vanessa to try all my recipes. She would take all the ingredients home and have her friends and family taste the dishes and give me feedback so I could make adjustments. This was one of the recipes that people loved the most. Her boyfriend said to her," she explains in the introduction to the dish in her cookbook.

She continues, "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."

Braised five spice beef

3 star anise pods

6 fresh red Thai chilies, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns

2 bay leaves

1 cinnamon stick

1 cardamom pod (optional)

12 cups water, more as needed, divided

2½ pounds (1.125 kg) boneless beef shank, cut into 4 pieces

1 cup light soy sauce

½ cup dark soy sauce

½ cup rice wine

8 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise

1½ tablespoons sugar

Cooked rice (page 241) or your favorite noodles, for serving


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 to 3 minutes. Transfer the spices to a small plate and let cool. Place the spices in a spice bag. Set aside.

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

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 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 to 2 hours, until the beef is soft and can be pulled apart with a fork.

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.


Note from Tiffy Chen: For extra flavour, leave the braised beef in the sauce overnight in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat the beef before slicing.

serves 4-6