Poached Beef in Hot Chili Broth水煮牛肉shuǐ zhǔ niú ròu

IMG_2934Sichuan cuisine owes its notoriety to the Hot-and-Numbing Flavor’(麻辣味má là wèi), a powerful combination of chilies and Sichuan peppercorns. The poached beef in hot chili broth, or Shui Zhou Niu Rou, is a classic dish of the favor. The dish is satisfying, addictive and unforgettable once you taste it. The cooking method is surprisingly simple.

Serves 2-4

  • 300g                               beef tenderloin, thinly sliced 牛里脊肉,切片
  • 2 tablespoons               potato or corn starch 生粉
  • 2 tablespoons                water in room temperature
  • 1/3 teaspoon                salt
  • 1 tablespoon                Chinese cooking wine 料酒
  • ½ tablespoon               light soy sauce 生抽
  • 300g                               vegetable of your choice (e.g. soy bean sprouts or bok choy or combination of both)
  • 50g                                bamboo shoots (optional)
  • 4 tablespoons              cooking oil
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons      Sichuan peppercorns (depending on your level of tolerance of the numbing Szechuan peppercorn)四川花椒
  • 12g                               garlic cloves, minced蒜末
  • 6g                                 ginger, minced姜末
  • 3 tablespoons            Sichuan  fermented bean paste (Doubanjiang)四川郫县豆瓣酱
  • 8-10 dried chili pepper干红辣椒
  • 1000ml                       water
  • 10g                              sugar白糖
  • Coriander for garnishing香菜


  1. Slice the beef tenderloin thinly.
  2. In a bowl, add corn starch and 1 tablespoon of water. Mix it well. Combine ‘watered starch’, sliced beef, salt, cooking wine and light soy sauce. Mix well. Set aside for 2 hours. Make sure each slice of beef is well coated with ‘watered starch’. This will help keep the beef from being overcooked during the late poaching process.
  3. Bring a big pot of water to boil, add the vegetable of your choice. Blanch them by batches. Drain. Place blanched vegetable in a big and deep bowl. Set aside.
  4. In a frying pan, add 1 tablespoon of oil, fry the Sichuan peppercorn over low heat for about a few minutes. Add in minced ginger and garlic. Continue fry for a few minutes. Add into the dry chili and cook for 1 more minute. Now add the doubanjiang, keep frying until you can see the red oil come out. Now pour into the pan around 1000ML water, add sugar. Simmer for around 15-20 minutes with lid covered. During this process, you may smell the strong aroma brought by the broth.
  5. During the process, in another pot, bring a big pot of water to boil, add the vegetable of your choice. Blanch them by batches. Drain. Place blanched vegetable in the bottom of a big and deep serving bowl. Set aside.
  6. Now back to the frying pan. Open the lid. Turn up fire , bring the broth to a boil, add in the beef slices by batches and cook until the broth begins to boil again. Once boiling, wait for around 20 to 30 seconds, transfer them out and place them on top of the blanched vegetable immediately. Pour half of the left broth into the serving bowl.
  7. Use another pan, heat up 3 tablespoons of cooking oil over high heat until the oil becomes really hot (you can almost see the smoke.) Evenly pour the oil onto the beef in the serving bowl. Be careful during the process; do not get burnt!FullSizeRender.jpg
  8. Garnish with coriander. Serve immediately


  1. The dish needs to be served immediately as the left heat inside will continue heating the slices. But watch out your mouth. Take one piece out and cool down for several seconds before enjoying.
  2. When poaching the beef, let the beef  slices stay still for a minute once you add in the boiling broth. This helps ‘watered starch’ continue coat the beef so to create a layer to keep the beef overcooking, resulting a tendered and juicy beef.  After a minute, you can use chopsticks to move around the beef slices in the pan so that each slice is evenly cooked.


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