Chefs' Recipes

Tony Tan's braised beef brisket with chilli-oil sauce

A magical version of the Cantonese classic, with a robust chilli oil to boot.

By Tony Tan
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 1 hr 50 mins cooking plus infusing
  • Serves 4 - 6
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"I first wrote about the Cantonese classic, beef brisket, in my book Hong Kong Food City. It's traditionally cooked with chunks of daikon and is served with oyster sauce or chilli sauce," says Tony Tan. "This recipe is a breeze to make and is perfect on a cool spring day – the charm lays in the perfect balance of spices, which enhances the distinctive beef flavour. This version is rather magical, especially with a robust chilli-oil sauce. It's a hot favourite with family and friends – it's one of my sister's favourite recipes. You're more likely to encounter this dish in specialty food stalls rather than in Chinese restaurants."


  • 1 kg piece beef brisket, fat trimmed
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 20 gm ginger (about 4cm), sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 spring onions, cut into 2.5cm lengths
  • 2 star anise
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 small cinnamon quill
  • 2 pieces dried tangerine peel (see note)
  • 1 tbsp coarsely crushed rock sugar (see note)
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp cornflour mixed with 1 tbsp water
  • Steamed rice and coriander, to serve
Chilli-oil sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1½ tbsp light soy sauce
  • 80 ml (⅓ cup) chilli oil (see note)
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • Pinch of caster sugar


  • 1
    Place beef in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer to remove impurities (8-10 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon and rinse under cold water. Rinse the saucepan.
  • 2
    Heat vegetable oil in the same saucepan over high heat. Add ginger, garlic and spring onion and stir-fry until fragrant (1-2 minutes). Add star anise, bay leaves, Sichuan peppercorns and cinnamon, reduce heat to medium, and stir-fry until fragrant (3-4 minutes). Add tangerine peel, rock sugar, light and dark soy sauce and beef, cover with water (about 3 litres) and bring to the boil. Cover partially with a lid, then reduce the heat to low-medium and simmer until beef is fork-tender (1½ hours to 2 hours).
  • 3
    Meanwhile, for chilli-oil sauce, whisk ingredients in a bowl until sugar dissolves.
  • 4
    Transfer beef to a large heatproof bowl with a slotted spoon. Ladle some braising liquid over the beef to taste and cover to keep warm. Strain remaining braising liquid through a fine sieve (discard solids) and transfer 500ml of the liquid to a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, add cornflour and whisk until a smooth glossy sauce forms, season to taste and keep warm. Slice beef and place in a large bowl, pour over 2-3 ladles of reduced stock to taste, then some chilli-oil sauce. Serve with rice and coriander.


Dried tangerine peel, rock sugar and chilli oil are available from Asian grocers.
Drink suggestion: Amber ale. Drink suggestion by Max Allen.