An easy Chinese-style braised beef recipe with melt-in-your-mouth chunks of beef brisket simmered in a rich and aromatic sauce. Simmer slowly on the stove or use your pressure cooker to shorten the cooking time, or set and forget with your slow cooker. Directions and tips are all here!
Chinese Braised Beef vs Beef Pares
This is a simplified Chinese braised beef recipe. It uses fewer ingredients and is slightly sweeter than the traditional recipe.
Back home in the Philippines, we call this dish 'Beef Pares' which means 'beef paired with'. It was named as such because Filipinos often serve this with garlic fried rice with a bowl of beef soup on the side.
What you need
And here are the ingredients that you will need to make Chinese style braised beef:
A few notes about the ingredients:
- Beef - The best part of beef for Chinese braised beef is beef brisket. It has a nice amount of fat and becomes meltingly tender after slow cooking for hours. Beef brisket is also perfect for pressure cooking as it doesn't get easily overcooked and become mushy.
- Soy Sauce - Use regular soy sauce or less-sodium soy sauce. I prefer using Kikkoman naturally brewed soy sauce.
- Oyster Sauce - Gives the sauce that unique Asian flavor.
- Hoisin Sauce - Sweet and salty which makes the sauce even more delicious.
- Star Anise and Ginger - Give this dish its distinct and unique aromatic flavor.
- Sugar - use brown sugar or white sugar.
Vegetables you can add
You can also add sliced carrots or daikon radish if you want to up your vegetables. Add them towards the end of the cooking–around 20 minutes before the beef finishes cooking.
How to Make It
The secret to making the best-tasting braised beef? Make it one day ahead before you plan to serve it. Leaving it overnight will allow all the flavors to develop even further.
And here's how I make it:
For a richer and silkier sauce, parboil the beef. Skim off the scum and discard. Separate the beef from the broth. Strain the broth to remove the remaining bits and pieces. I know this may sound like an unnecessary step, but this is the secret to making a rich and glossy braised beef sauce.
Saute garlic, onion, ginger, and star anise to bring out their flavor. Add back the beef together with the oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, and soy sauce. Simmer for 2 minutes. This step allows the beef to some of the flavors of the seasonings.
Pour broth and cover with a lid. Cook until the beef is meltingly tender. The cooking time of braised beef can take 2 hours or more depending on the cut and thickness of the meat.
Finally, pour the cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce. Simmer until glossy, thick, and rich.
That's it! EASY!
- If the liquid starts to dry up while braising the meat, just add hot water. Start with ¼ cup to ½ cup and continue cooking until desired tenderness is achieved.
- If you end up adding too much water, simmer the sauce without the lid before adding the cornstarch slurry.
- Remove excess fat to make the sauce less greasy tasting. This is optional but I personally prefer removing it for health reasons.
How to Remove Excess Grease
Here are two ways to remove the excess grease:
Turn off the heat and let the pot stand for several minutes until the grease floats on top. Using a large spoon, scoop all the visible yellow-looking oil (yes, that's the grease) off the top of the sauce. Tilt the pot if you have to.
Transfer to a cup and discard in the garbage. Not in your drain as it will block your drain.
Another option is to use slices of bread as a sponge to absorb the oil from the surface.
Instant Pot Cooking Time
The quickest way to tenderize beef brisket is using a stovetop pressure cooker or an electric pressure cooker like an Instant Pot.
Here are the recommended cooking times:
- 50 minutes - thick cubes of beef brisket around 1 ½ inch to 2 inches.
- 35 minutes - for small cubes of beef brisket or chuck roast.
After the cooking time is up, do a QUICK RELEASE.
Serve this braised beef with a warm cup of rice, steamed vegetables like bok choi, or even stir-fried vegetables.
Beef Pares Style
Serve with garlic fried rice and clear beef soup. Sprinkle with toasted garlic on top and chili oil. Delicious!
Watch the Video
Chinese Style Braised Beef (Beef Pares)
- 2.6 pounds beef brisket (cut 1 ½ to 2 inches cubes, note 1)
- 4-5 cups water (for boiling)
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 5 cloves garlic (chopped)
- 1 medium onion (chopped)
- ½ thumb-size ginger (peeled then sliced)
- 3 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 1-2 tablespoon brown sugar (note 2)
- 2 piece star anise
- 1 pc beef bouillon (optional)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon water
- scallions/ green onions (thinly sliced)
- toasted garlic
- chili oil
- Place beef in a large pot. Pour 4-5 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Skim off foam or scum as it rises. Transfer beef to a bowl and set aside. Strain liquid to remove remaining residue then reserve for braising.
- Heat oil in the same pot. Add onions, garlic, ginger, and star anise. Stir-fry until fragrant and onions become translucent.
- Add back the beef. Pour soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, and brown sugar. Stir until meat is coated with the sauce. Simmer for 2 minutes over low heat. Pour 4 cups reserve braising liquid and beef bouillon.
- Cover with a lid and bring to a boil over high heat. Adjust heat medium low and simmer until beef is tender. This can take 2 hours or more depending on the thickness and cut beef cut. Add more braising liquid as necessary and stir occasionally.
Instant Pot Method:
- Set instant pot to SAUTE mode. Follow steps 1 and 2 in the stove-top method.
- Pour 3 cups of braising liquid. Don’t fill it past the max level. Close the lid and position the valve to a SEALING position. Press CANCEL. Select PRESSURE COOK and set the timer to 50 minutes (see note 3 for other cooking times).
- When the timer is up, turn the knob to VENTING to quick-release (follow manufacturer’s guide for safety).
Thicken the sauce:
- Once the beef is tender, add the cornstarch slurry and simmer until the sauce has thickened.
- Serve with plain rice or garlic rice. Sprinkle with toasted garlic, green onions and chili oil if preferred.
Recipe Notes and Tips:
- Beef - other cuts of beef you can use are beef shin, chuck, and beef neck bones.
- Sugar - Use 1 tablespoon for a less sweet sauce. I used 2 tablespoons.
- Blanching - You can blanch the beef in the Instant Pot or use a separate pot. Use SAUTE mode.
- Instant Pot cooking time - 35 minutes for small cubes of beef brisket or chuck roast.
Originally published in May 2019. Updated June 2022 with new photos, video, and a streamlined recipe after further testing to improve the recipe!
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