I have used whole Mandarin oranges in this beef dish to get every bit of citrus flavour from them, after which they are discarded. The oranges are studded with cloves, which helps to corral the spice.
For this dish, use braising steak, such as topside or some of the fattier parts. Short ribs are good too.
This recipe is from the Don't Call Me Chef column.
2 Mandarin oranges
450g braising steak (see intro above), cut into 3cm cubes
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp black vinegar
2 tbsp soya sauce
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine (optional)
1 tsp whole Szechuan peppercorns, ground
1½ tbsp tomato purée
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 medium onions, peeled and cut into wedges
2 cinnamon sticks
4 whole star anise
1 beef stock cube
300g yam (taro)
Celery leaves (daun sup), finely chopped
Wash the oranges well. Dry them and stud with the cloves as shown.
Dab the beef cubes with paper towels to dry them. Dredge them in the flour.
In a bowl, combine the vinegar, soya sauce, rice wine (if using), ground peppercorns and tomato purée.
Heat two tablespoons of cooking oil in a large heavy pot. Fry the beef cubes so they are brown all over. Do this in batches and do not crowd the pan. Remove beef from the pan and set aside.
Drain most of the oil from the same pan and add the garlic and onions. Sauté briefly, then add the combined sauce, cinnamon and star anise. Let it come to a boil and return meat to the pot; add just enough water to cover the cubes.
Stir in the stock cube and drop in the two clove-studded oranges. Cover the pot, bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened, 60 to 90 minutes. Scrape the bottom of the pot now and then so there’s no sticking.
Meanwhile, peel the yam and cut into 1cm-thick wedges.
Scoop out the oranges into a large sieve placed over the pan. With the back of a wooden spoon, press them to extract the juice. Discard the mashed oranges. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning.
Add the yam to the pot, cover and cook until tender, another 10 to 15 minutes.
Sprinkle beef with celery leaves and serve with steamed rice.