Growing up in a Chinese Buddhist/Taoist family, I rarely saw beef on our dinner table. Many of my extended family and friends also avoid beef. Many quote their devotion to Guan Yin as the reason. While my parents are not overly religious, they avoid beef, frequently opting for chicken, duck and pork instead. Cost may also be another reason. Beef was and is still considered a rather expensive meat. Many also consider beef to be too robustly flavoured.
Nutritional awareness was not fashionable (yet). Hence, the worries of having iron deficiency from eating virtually no iron-rich meat never crossed our minds. However, we instinctively made up for it by having livers, pumpkin seeds, spinach, leafy green vegetables and soybeans regularly.
I started cooking with beef after moving out. Some of my favourite beef dishes are the good old beef casserole, Hungarian beef goulash and this Chinese beef, carrot, tomato and white radish stew. They are all one-pot, comfort foods that you would crave on a cold night. Foods that could literally give you a hug. The iron-rich, yet warm and cuddly variety, that is.
Chinese beef, tomato & white radish stew
1 Tbsp oil
6-8 cloves garlic, chopped
2 brown onions, chopped
1 kg / 2 lb 3 oz beef, chuck steak, chopped to bite-size pieces
2 Tbsp no-salt tomato paste
±600g / 1 lb 5 oz/5-6 tomatoes, chopped
3½ cups / 875ml / 30 fl oz water/low-salt beef stock
5 carrots, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 medium / ±900 g / 2 lb white radish (daikon), chopped into bite sized pieces
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
Iodised salt to taste.
3-4 stalks spring onion, sliced thinly
Heat the oil in a large casserole pan over medium/high heat. Add the garlic and onion. Stir until fragrant. Add the beef and tomato paste. Stir until the beef pieces are browned. Add the tomatoes and water/stock. Mix well. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir ocassionally
Add the carrots. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add the daikon. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, soy sauce and salt. Simmer for another 15 minutes. Stir ocassionally.
Stir in the spring onion just before serving. Serve warm with steamed rice.