Lily's Beef Stew

The secret to this Chinese version of beef stew, brought to us by Martha's friend Lily Mei, is to cook the meat three times. It's first boiled, then sauteed in a hot wok, and finally simmered until tender.

  • Servings: 8
Lily's Beef Stew

Source: Martha Stewart Living, April 2000


  • 4 pounds boneless beef shin or chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced 1/8 inch thick
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark-brown sugar
  • 4 star anise
  • 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • Steamed rice, for serving


  1. Fill a large pot halfway with water, and bring to a boil. Add cubed beef, stirring often to prevent sticking. Cook for 1 minute. Drain beef into a colander, and shake to remove excess water.

  2. Heat wok over high heat. Add olive oil, swirling to coat the sides of wok. Add drained beef, and saute until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add ginger, white wine, soy sauce, brown sugar, star anise, and cinnamon. Continue to saute until evenly browned, about 5 minutes, stirring to combine.

  3. Add 1 cup water, and transfer beef mixture to a large pot. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups water, cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to simmer, and cook until meat is almost tender, 1 1/2 hours. Season with salt, and continue to simmer until meat is tender, 1/2 hour. Serve with steamed rice.

Cook's Notes

This traditional Hunan dish is flavored with star anise and cassia, a close relation to cinnamon that's available in Asian food stores.


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