22 August 2012

Beef Stew (kinda)

So I wasn't actually planning to make stew but had wanted to make some beef stock to keep for future use instead.

I set out to buy some beef bones at the Albert Centre Market & Food Centre (wet market section). I went there around 1pm and there was only a handful of stalls still open (if you're not local, the wet markets in Singapore operate only in the morning).
Of the three meat stalls which were still open, two of them sold only pork. At the third stall, there was a lady cutting a bagful of bone-ish looking meat and I excitedly asked her what bones were they, hoping they were beef bones.

They were actually pork ribs and I then asked her if she had beef bones which she didn't. However, she did have some beef which she promptly took out of the freezer. It was rock hard and she told me it was the shin part of the meat.

I was disappointed but decided to take it anyway. The meat weighed slightly over 2 kg and she sold it to me at $14 (after a discount of 50 cents).  I was contemplating what to make with this much beef when she told me that the shin meat makes a great stew and so...beef stew it shall be!

As the beef was frozen, I had to cut it up myself at home.

2kg of beef shin meat

I've never cut up such a huge block of meat before. The centre of the block was still partly frozen and adding the fact that my chopper, which rarely saw the daylight, was slightly blunt, this turned out to be a very daunting task!

Man, it took me about half an hour to chop up all that beef. I was hoping to find some bones in all that meat so I could freeze and reserve them for the beef stock next time. Tough luck, it was 100% all meat (plus fats, tendons, cartilage) in there!

Check out this mountain of beef - $14 for this much was a major steal!

I was totally maxed out after all that chopping. I proceeded to pack them into smaller portions using cling wrap and placed them in the freezer.

The next day, I decided to make my beef stew.

I used:
5 stalks of celery
5 medium-sized carrots
2 large yellow onions
some mushrooms (I had some left so I wanted to use them up)
5-6 garlic cloves, smashed
400-500g of beef

As you can probably see in the picture, I also added some ginger which I regretted later. I picked them out halfway during the cooking process because the ginger gave the soup too much of a strong spicy taste. Ugh, so please forget the ginger.

These are pretty much the same ingredients I use when I cook soups.

This reminded me of the times when I used to cook soups (using pork bones) for my partner during the early stages of our relationship. Then work got busier and I got lazier (it was mostly the lazy part haha, shame on me!) and I rarely make soups now.

I used canned tomatoes which I got from Cold Storage quite some time ago. I'd actually prefer to use fresh tomatoes but as I had this, I thought I'd use this instead. I don't remember the price but I figured it shouldn't be cheap since this is under Waitrose. 

I used only half of the can and it was mostly thick juice. If I had used fresh tomatoes, I think I would have used about 6-7 medium-sized tomatoes because I like my stew to be sourish.

I then placed the ingredients (including 1 portion of the beef) in the pot. I used a thermal cooker to make this stew but you can also use a slow cooker.

I added water which covered about 3/4 of the ingredients and left it to cook overnight (16 hours for me).

Okay, so the result wasn't really stew. It was more like beef soup, lol. Check it out:

Nonetheless, it was shiok! I've never used beef in soup/stew before and it really gives the broth a good deep flavour. The beef was soft but dry but well, still acceptable to me. The broth more than makes up for the lacklustre meat. If you like a creamier stew, you can add butter and cheese to for a richer flavour. Nice!

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