Chinese Cold Spiced Beef, or 卤牛肉小菜, features thin slices of Chinese-style Red-Cooked beef shank prepared and served with a spicy sauce.
Cold plates frequently commence a Chinese banquet and combinations may include dressed jelly-fish shreds, cold roast pork with crackling, or marbled tea-eggs (to name just a few). One perennial favorite is thinly sliced braised beef shank. The little appetizer portion of this specialty you see pictured above doesn’t really need a recipe as long as you have prepared the beef as per my recently posted Red-Cooked Beef Shank recipe.
One feature of beef shanks is that the meat stands up really well to long periods of cooking and generally won’t fall apart easily. Nevertheless, if you want to slice the cooked meat extremely thinly it helps to wrap it tightly and chill for several hours or overnight before doing so.
Here is one muscle from a section of Beef Shank that has been red-cooked and cooled. I always think that the pattern made by the tendons and sinews almost looks like a Japanese painting and I suspect that it is the appearance of the slices, as much as the taste and texture, that makes it so appealing for cold plates.
卤牛肉小菜 may be served without any sauce or dressing (especially as part of a combination plate) but some sort of condiment is often provided, with spicy varieties probably being the most favored. For today’s post, I have just used a small amount of Sambal Oelek mixed with a little Sichuan Pepper Oil.
For other serving ideas, you might want to try drizzling the slices of meat with a Basic Chili Oil (complete with some of the chili flakes) and replace the garnish of thinly sliced scallion with flakes of Crispy Fried Onions. A topping of cilantro and crushed peanuts, in concert with Chili Oil, also makes an attractive presentation as well as providing an interesting textural contrast, but the main thing to remember when preparing an attractive appetizer like this is that simplicity is often the best…