Chinese spices reshape beef stew

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Part stir-fry, part stew, this aromatic, hearty dish draws flavor and texture from shiitake mushrooms, bok choy and Chinese five-spice powder: a blend of cinnamon, star anise, ginger, anise and cloves.

The recipe calls for Chinese rice wine, which has a distinctive taste, but it's not essential. You can substitute sake or any dry white wine.


Quick-Braised Five-Spice Sirloin and Shiitake Stew

5 servings (makes 6 cups)

1½ teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder, or to taste

Kosher salt

1½ pounds boneless sirloin steak, trimmed of fat and cut in 1½-inch-by-¼-inch strips

2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil, divided

1 bunch scallions, white and light-green parts, cut crosswise into thin slices

10 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and cut into ¼-inch slices

⅓ cup Chinese rice wine

½ cup no-salt-added beef broth

½ cup fresh orange juice

12 ounces baby bok choy, trimmed and cut crosswise into ¼-inch to ½-inch-thick strips

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons cornstarch

Combine the Chinese five-spice powder and ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste, in a small bowl, then rub the mixture all over the steak.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in large, nonstick shallow braising pan or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add half of the beef and stir-fry for 3 to 4 minutes or until the meat loses its raw look; it might not be cooked through. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining beef.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan; heat for 1 minute, then add the scallions, mushrooms and a pinch of salt; cook, stirring, until the mushrooms soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the rice wine and cook for 1 minute, then add the broth, half the orange juice, all of the beef and any accumulated juices, the bok choy, sugar and soy sauce, stirring to incorporate. Once the liquid comes to a boil, cover and immediately reduce the heat to medium or medium-low so the liquid just barely bubbles at the edges. Cook until the bok choy is tender, stirring a couple of times, for about 12 minutes.

Whisk the remaining orange juice with the cornstarch in a small bowl, until smooth.

Uncover the pan; increase the heat to medium-high, bringing the liquid back to a boil. Pour in the orange juice mixture and immediately stir to combine. The liquid should thicken in a minute or two. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed. Serve warm with rice.

Per serving: 300 calories, 33 g protein, 12 g carbohydrates, 12 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 230 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 6 g sugar