Nghệ An’s traditional beef shank braised with molasses, a must-try dish

June 11, 2024 - 08:36
Beef shank braised with molasses is one of the central province of Nghệ An’s specialties, one that guests and foodies are unlikely to forget.

Thu Hà

Beef shank braised with molasses is one of the central province of Nghệ An’s specialties, one that guests and foodies are unlikely to forget.

Nghệ An is well known nationwide for its organic molasses, made from the sugarcanes grown locally, which have their own distinctive flavour. So all local households store the molasses to braise beef shanks for any big party, such as Tết (Lunar New Year) or a wedding, but it is also a dish now served for every day meals, said local resident Phan Thị Ngọt.

Beef shank braised with molasses, a popular pride dish of Nghệ An Province in central Việt Nam. Photo

“The molasses are a natural preserve to help the dish has its own special flavour and savoury, spicy from chilli and fragrant from ginger and quality fish sauce,” added Ngọt, 76, who lives in Tân Kỳ District’s Tân Hương Village, which is famed for making quality molasses.

To make this tasty dish, the most important thing is to get fresh beef shanks, which Ngọt orders in advance to ensure it is a good grade of meat.

A plate of Nghệ An-style beef shank stewed with molasses. Photo

Each family has its own way of cooking the dish; and Ngọt too has her 'secret' recipe.

Ingredients include fresh green tea leaves, dried chilli, garlic, dried onion, lemongrass, cinnamon, anise, clove buds, and amomum tsao-ko.

Ngọt said she starts by boiling the fresh green tea leaves with water to clean the meat very carefully, so as to release any unpleasant smell and help ensure the beef is savoury and tender.

After braising, the shank will be solid but still soft and so it is easy to cut it into very thin slices, which will then take in the flavour of all the spices.

Stewed beef shank recently recognized one of top 100 most tasty dishes in the world by TasteAtlas. Photo

Other steps include grilling the ginger over charcoal, before frying it together with chopped onion and lemongrass, molasses and fish sauce, in which the beef shank has been marinaded for at least a day and a night, before it is then cooked for one hour over small fire, said Ngọt.

“The dish is enjoyable when eating it cool,” she added.

Ngọt’s daughter Nguyễn Thị Hoàng, who has been resettled in Denmark, said when she is homesick, she often cooks beef shanks to remind her parents in Việt Nam.

“I often cook the dish to welcome in the Tết holiday. But despite my efforts, my braised beef shank dish is not as tasty as the one cooked by my mother, because we lack with several original Vietnamese spices in Denmark,” said Hoàng, adding however that her family still greatly enjoys the taste.

Ingredients to cook the dish include beef shank, potato, carrot, onion and others. Photo

In addition to the Nghệ An-style braised beef shank, TasteAtlas, the world’s culinary map, recently recognised Việt Nam’s stewed beef among the top 100 most tasty great dishes in the world.

"Braised beef and stewed beef are among one of the favourite dishes in Việt Nam. Ingredients include beef, carrots, onions, shallot, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, pepper, and chilli. Apart from being eaten with bread, diners can also enjoy it with rice and phở topped with fresh herbs," TasteAtlas reported. "It can be eaten as breakfast, lunch or dinner." VNS