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Braised Beef Shank is a dish that features in many cuisines, perhaps because braising really is the best way to cook this tough cut of meat. The shank (or shin, as it's called in the UK) of the cow is a lean and sinewy cut, as a result of the frequent muscle usage. Braising, the process of cooking slowly in liquid over low heat, breaks down the tough fibres and transforms the meat into a wonderfully tender and delicious meal.
Chinese Braised Beef Shank (卤牛肉 or Lǔ niúròu)is a simple dish cooked in broth, flavoured with a few spices and seasonings. You could make it as complex and elaborate as you like, or keep it extremely simple with just the bare minimum of ingredients. The recipe below is a fairly basic recipe using a pre-prepared Chinese five spice powder mix. If you are able to get a hold of the individual spices, you may prefer to assemble your own mix, which would allow you to vary the proportions of each spice in, and even add spices to, the mix.
The first time you make Chinese Braised Beef Shank, you'll either use water or beef stock. The dish then starts to come into its own with every subsequent preparation, as the excess stock is reserved each time for future use. When new beef is cooked in reserved stock, the flavours develop further, leaving you with a complex and unique broth. (Note, you should only use up to half the amount of spices, if cooking with reserved stock.) You'll soon understand why it would be a 'crime' to discard this stock! I always like to make up a batch of Soy Marinated Egg (Lu Dan | 卤蛋) with the excess stock, as it's freshly made and available for use.
Chinese Braised Beef Shank can be served as a starter, a main or a snack for any time of day. Typically, we serve this dish simply with some chilli dipping sauce, rice and stir fried greens on the side. You could also serve this atop noodles in some beef broth. Any leftovers, I always keep - this is an ideal dish to cook in large batches and store in the fridge for hungry children after school!
Here's what you'll need to make this Braised Beef Shank:
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1.5kg whole beef shank, cut into 3 or 4 smaller pieces
1.5L beef stock (or water)
20ml dark soy sauce 
20ml light soy sauce 
30g fresh ginger root, sliced
4 spring onions, trimmed
2 Tbsp Chinese Five Spice powder 
80ml Shaoxing wine 
20g sugar 
If you're assembling your own spice bouquet, you'll need (about 20g in aggregate) :
7g Chinese cinnamon bark
4 star anises
3 large bay leaves (or 4 smaller ones)
1/2 Tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
1/2 Tbsp cumin seeds
2 (green) cardamom pods
And here's what you'll need to do:
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