Slow Cooked Beef in Spring Onions, Ginger, and Soy Sauce (紅燒牛肉)

This is probably the most common way to cook beef in Taiwan. It’s a taste I grew up with. There are noodle shops set up practically selling just this (served with noodles of course, like the photo below).


I cook this every now and then in New Zealand. Kiwi Bird loves meat slow cooked until it melts in the mouth. The seasoning for this dish is very simple and uses inexpensive cuts. Beef shin is the most common cut for this, either cooked as a whole shin, or in slices. (If it’s cooked as a whole shin, it can also be sliced very thinly once cold, and served as a cold dish.)

Try to find cuts that have a good distribution of fat within the meat. For example, a front leg’s shin is a better choice than a hind leg’s shin. This produces tenderer meat that really does melt in the mouth. The fat will basically all end up on top of the broth after slow cooking, which can be easily skimmed off.

To make this dish, you’ll need:

  • 2 Kg beef (whole shins or sliced, gravy cuts, skirt cuts, brisket, whatever you can get your hand on – try to find cuts that have a good distribution of fat within the meat)
  • a HUGH bunch of spring onions
  • 4 cm chunk of ginger
  • 2-3 carrots, cut into chunks (this acts as a natural stock/sweetener, so do add them even if you don’t mean to eat them – just discard them at the end)
  • 6 start anise
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorn
  • 1/4 white rice liquor (about 14% alcohol content*, optional)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup of soy sauce**
  • water

Follow these steps:

  1. Wash spring onions and chop into 5 cm chunks.
  2. Sandwich ginger between a chopping board and the flat face of a knife, and smash the ginger by hammering the flat face of the knife with your fist. You don’t need to completely flatten the ginger, just crack and bruise it. Then roughly chop it into big chunks.
  3. Put everything into a big pot and add enough water to just cover the meat.
  4. Bring to boil on the stove and simmer for 2 hours until the meat can be easily picked apart with a fork.
  5. Serve beef and soup with boiled and drained noodles as a noodle soup, or enjoy with plenty of rice. (If you are using whole shins, slice them or cut into chunky bits. It is also common to serve thinly sliced shin as a cold appetiser or a side dish.)

I hope you’ll enjoy this dish as much as my family 🙂

* About rice liquor: There are typically two types, one around 14% in alcohol, the other around 40%. If you have the stronger one, halve the amount.

** About soy sauce: Soy sauce varies in saltiness. In general the Taiwanese ones are a lot less salty than ones from China, and has a stronger aroma (which I strongly recommend). Add less to begin with and taste once the dish has boiled. Adjust with water/soy sauce to your taste. Remember at the end of cooking, the dish will become more salty as water evaporates


9 thoughts on “Slow Cooked Beef in Spring Onions, Ginger, and Soy Sauce (紅燒牛肉)

  1. Wow that looks good!
    I’ll have to scope out the price of a decently sized piece of shin beef here in NL (all meat is eye wateringly expensive here) and see if this is affordable 🙂

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