Dining In 2 minutes 21 March 2018

Recipe: Asian Beef Bourguignon

Morsels’ chef Petrina Loh serves up a meaty dish imbued with the fragrance and health benefits of TCM herbs.

Chinese recipe tradition

At her cosy cottage of a restaurant tucked away in the verdant Dempsey Hill, Morsels, chef/owner Petrina Loh’s kitchen counter looks more like that of an apothecary with barks, herbs, leaves and seeds, all laid out in bowls. She’s been experimenting with the likes of ginseng, dang shen and beiqi—herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine—and incorporating them into her creative fusion dishes.
Petrina Chef Jacket frontal.png
“Growing up in a Chinese family that had double-boiled soups on the table at every meal definitely played a big part in sparking my interest,” says Petrina. “I am a big advocate for natural foods and medicine, as opposed to more "quick-acting" cures from 'western medicine'.”

Infusing traditional Chinese herbs and ingredients into a quintessentially French beef bourguignon, she hopes to change mindsets that TCM herbs are too unpleasant-tasting and overpowering for daily cooking.
“After working with TCM herbs for so long, I have learned that it is crucial to use just the right amount and cook them for an appropriate duration. Chinese herbs, and their benefits, can be incorporated in modern dishes.”

TCM herbs are easily accessible these days, even for a non-Chinese speaker with more Traditional Chinese Medicinal halls catering to a younger, modern market. Take your list in romanised Chinese (like in the recipe below) to TCM retail outlets like ZTP or Eu Yan Sang, and staff there will not only be able to help you pick out the herbs, they'll also give you advice on the medicinal benefits and tips to prepare them.
An array of TCM herbs.
An array of TCM herbs.
Try this recipe for an Asian take on beef bourguignon. At Morsels, chef Petrina uses a beautiful Toriyama Wagyu, but any good shoulder cut or boneless chuck roll will work as well. Beef is a red meat rich in iron that is believed to promote blood circulation in TCM, while Foo Chow ang chow (red rice wine), a gut health and digestion aid, takes the place of red wine in the stew.

In the recipe, you’ll also see the purported benefits of the TCM herbs that the chef has chosen to create a dish that is wholesome, healing and nourishing.
Asian Toriyama Wagyu Beef Bourguignon
Serves 4-6

1.5 kilograms Toriyama Wagyu shoulder clod
800 grams brown onions
60 milliliters sesame oil
240 milliliters Shaoxing wine
480 milliliters Chinese rice wine
3 Tablespoons Cincalok
2 Tablespoons shallot oil (or neutral cooking oil)
60 grams Ang Chow (Chinese red rice wine)
1 litre brown chicken stock or beef stock
1 head garlic
30 grams ginger
10 grams salt
2 grams fine black pepper
5 grams chuan siong (invigorates blood and expels wind)
8 grams dang gui (tonifies and regulates blood)
12 grams gan cao/liquorice root (clears heat and toxicity)
7 grams dangshen (stimulates a poor appetite)
40 grams honey dates (a natural sweetener high in iron)
10 grams bei qi (promotes skin regeneration)
35 grams ren shen (calming and strengthens the stomach)
10 grams chen pi/dried orange peel (dissolves phlegm and relieves coughs)
15 grams xing ren (stops coughs and promotes bowel movements)
10 grams yuzhu (nourishes the lungs and stomach)
20 milliliters mirin


1. Trim the sinew and fat, then cut the beef into cubes.

2. Combine oils and fat from the trimmings and bring them to heat in the pressure cooker.

3. Dry beef cubes with paper towel, and season with salt and pepper.

4. Sear beef in the heated beef fat for 4 mins till well browned.

5. Remove and set aside.

6. Sweat onions in oil that was used to sear beef for about 10mins till onions turn translucent.

7. Add ginger and garlic and sweat them for about 5 mins till aroma releases.

8. Add beef back into pressure cooker, add cincalok and angchow, and quickly fry it till well combined.

9. Deglaze the pressure cooker with combination of Shaoxing and rice wine till alcohol is burned off.

10. Add mirin.

11. Rinse herbs and put into a sachet or wrap in a cheesecloth, then add to pressure cooker.

12. Fill up with stock.

13. Put lid of pressure cooker on and cook for 30 mins.

14. After 30 mins, strain cooking liquid and remove the fat/oil layer (the cooking liquid will become the sauce) .

15. Reduce sauce to saucing consistency.

16. Serve with a side of mashed potatoes and stir-fried Kailan.

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