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Chinese Braised Beef Shank Instant Pot/Stove (醬牛肉)

This classic Chinese braised beef shank dish has tender slices of meat with lots of flavor from the spiced stock! It is straightforward to make, especially if you make it in the Instant Pot.

Chinese Beef Shank, Instant Pot, Chinese Braised Beef Shank Top

Chinese braised beef shank (醬牛肉, jiang niu rou) is commonly served as a cold appetizer dish at Chinese banquet dinners. The beef is cooked in a stock with soy sauce, shallots, garlic, ginger, and more for an intensely flavorful dish! It is a relatively easy dish to make. With some planning, it can be prepared ahead of time for quick meal preparation!

Beef shanks are tougher than other beef cuts, so they require longer braising times. While most western-style dishes intend to create melt-in-your-mouth meats, this Chinese beef shank recipe does not. Instead, this aims for tender and chewy meat, which allows the beef to slice thinly without losing its shape. (A Chinese beef shank instant pot method can quicken this process significantly.)

The Stock

The watery stock also called a “master stock” or “old stock” (老汤, lao tang), can be reused to braise other ingredients after the beef shank. You can cook almost any protein or vegetable in it. As you reuse it, the stock deepens in flavor.

Spices

A wide variety of dried spices are used in the stock to create complex flavors. Feel free to experiment with a different combination/ratio to see what suits your tastes (or add more!). 

  • Chinese cinnamon (gui pi), star anise, cloves, fennel seeds, Sichuan peppercorns, white/black peppercorns
  • Tsao-ko (草果), or Chinese black cardamom, dried tangerine peel, dried licorice slices (甘草), dried sand ginger (沙姜), bay leaves, dried chilies

How to serve Chinese beef shank

The most common way to serve Chinese braised beef shank is as a cold appetizer. You can also pair it with rice, noodle soups, or in dishes like:

Recipe Notes

I’ve put what I think are the most notable tips in bold below. 

Preparing the Meat & Stock

  1. Trim the excess fat off of the beef and separate it into smaller pieces. This step reduces the amount of water required to submerge the meat, making the stock (and thus the meat) more flavorful. 
  2. You can use premade Chinese spice packets in place of the spices listed below. 

Cooking and Slicing the Beef Shank

  1. (Stovetop only) Rotate the meat every 30 minutes while simmering so that it is cooked and seasoned thoroughly.
  2. Cool the meat and stock down. Then, let the beef continue marinating in the cooled stock for a few hours (preferably overnight) to intensify its flavor. 
  3. Chill the meat in the fridge before slicing so that it will hold its shape when cut thinly. 

Saving the Stock

  1. Remove all the spices, strain the stock, and boil it briefly before refrigerating/ freezing for extended storage. You may need to add more water, salt, or spices as you continue to use the stock. 

Chinese Braised Beef Shank, Instant Pot/Stove (醬牛肉)

This classic Chinese braised beef shank dish has tender slices of meat with lots of flavor from the spiced stock! It is straightforward to make, especially if you make it in the Instant Pot.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Marinating Time8 hrs
Total Time8 hrs 55 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese, Taiwanese
Keyword: chinese beef shank, chinese beef shank instant pot, chinese beef shank recipe, Chinese braised beef shank, jiang niu rou
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

Blanching

  • 2 lbs beef shank
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 1 tbsp rice wine

Braise

  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 shallots
  • 4 green onions
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp rice wine
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar packed
  • 2 inches ginger
  • 3.5 cups water
  • salt to taste

Spices (or substitute with a store-bought spice packet)

  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 4 star anise
  • 5 cloves
  • 2 tsp fennel
  • 2 tsp Sichuan peppercorn

Instructions

Blanch the Beef Shank

  • Clean the excess fat off the beef shank and separate it into smaller pieces (the beef should somewhat naturally divide into roughly 1 lb portions). Note 1
  • Add 1 inch of ginger and 1 tbsp of rice wine to a large pot of water. Bring the pot to a boil.
  • Add in the beef shank, and let it boil for a few minutes. Drain and rinse the beef. (This step removes the impurities from the meat.)

Braise the Beef

  • Stovetop Method: Add some oil to a large pot and sauté the garlic, ginger, shallot, green onion, and spices over medium heat for a few minutes to release their fragrance.
  • Add the beef to the pot along with the remaining ingredients. The water should cover at least 80% of the beef shank. If not, add some more but not too much.
  • Bring the braise to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 1 – 1.5 hours, rotating every 30 minutes or so until just tender. Note 2 (To check, poke a fork or chopstick into the center of the shank. You should feel a little bit of resistance.) **Do not cook the beef until it becomes fall-apart tender.
  • Turn off the heat and let the beef cool in the stock to room temperature.

  • Instant Pot Method: Add some oil into the Instant Pot and turn on Sauté mode. Add the garlic, ginger, shallot, and green onion. Sauté for a few minutes to release their fragrance.
  • Add the beef to the pot along with the remaining ingredients. The water should cover at least 80% of the beef shank. If not, add some more.
  • Close and seal the Instant Pot. Set to High Pressure for 35 minutes, and let it naturally release. Open the Instant Pot and let the beef cool in the stock to room temperature.

Chill and Serve

  • Once at room temperature, place everything in the fridge to chill completely (an overnight chill results in the best flavor). Note 3
  • Remove the chilled beef shank and slice thinly. Garnish with chopped cilantro, scallions, and/or sesame seeds. Note 4

Notes

  1. This step reduces the amount of water required to submerge the meat, making the stock (and thus the meat) more flavorful.
  2. (Stovetop only) Rotate the meat while simmering so that it is cooked and seasoned thoroughly.
  3. Chill the meat in the fridge before slicing so that it will hold its shape when cut thinly.
  4. Remove all the spices, strain the stock, and boil it briefly before refrigerating/ freezing for extended storage. You may need to add more water, salt, or spices as you continue to use the stock.

How to Make Chinese Braised Beef Shank

Blanch the Beef Shank

Clean the excess fat off the beef shank and separate it into smaller pieces (the beef should somewhat naturally divide into roughly 1 lb portions). 

Cleaned Beef Shank

Add 1 inch of ginger and 1 tbsp of rice wine to a large pot of water. Bring the pot to a boil. Add in the beef shank, and let it boil for a few minutes. Drain and rinse the beef. (This step removes the impurities from the meat.)

Blanching Beef Shank

Braise the Beef

Stovetop Method

Add some oil to a large pot and sauté the garlic, ginger, shallot, green onion, and spices over medium heat for a few minutes to release their fragrance. 

Add the beef to the pot along with the remaining ingredients. The water should cover at least 80% of the beef shank. If not, add some more but not too much. Bring the braise to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 1 – 1.5 hours, rotating every 30 minutes or so until just tender. Note 2 (To check, poke a fork or chopstick into the center of the shank. You should feel a little bit of resistance.) **Do not cook the beef until it becomes fall-apart tender. 

Turn off the heat and let the beef cool in the stock to room temperature. 

Instant Pot Method

Add some oil into the Instant Pot and turn on Sauté mode. Add the garlic, ginger, shallot, and green onion. Sauté for a few minutes to release their fragrance. Add the beef to the pot along with the remaining ingredients. The water should cover at least 80% of the beef shank. If not, add some more.

Sauteed Ingredients

Close and seal the Instant Pot. Set to High Pressure for 35 minutes, and let it naturally release. Open the Instant Pot and let the beef cool in the stock to room temperature. 

Chinese Braised Beef Shank, Instant Pot

Chill and Serve

Once at room temperature, place everything in the fridge to chill completely (an overnight chill results in the best flavor). Remove the chilled beef shank and slice thinly. Garnish with chopped cilantro, scallions, and/or sesame seeds. 

Chinese Beef Shank, Instant Pot, Chinese Braised Beef Shank

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