Beef with bitter melon is a classic Chinese dish, often prepared by stir-frying it with black bean sauce and serving it over hot steamed rice

Savor the Aroma: Chinese Braised Beef Stew with Daikon

Recipe by Annie Tibber


Prep time


Cooking time





A common Chinese bitter melon recipe is Beef with Bitter Melon, where it’s stir-fried with black bean sauce and traditionally enjoyed with steamed rice.


  • 3 pounds of beef rough flank (cut into 1½- to 2-inch/4-5cm pieces; you can also use well-marbled chuck, which will cook faster)

  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

  • 7 slices of ginger

  • 5 cloves

  • 3 pieces of star anise

  • 3 bay leaves

  • 1 cup of Shaoxing wine

  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, preferably the light variety.

  • 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce

  • 5 cups of water

  • 1 tablespoon of sugar

  • 2 pounds of daikon radish (peeled and cut into 1½- to 2-inch/4-5cm pieces)

  • Salt (to taste)

  • 3 scallions (cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces)

  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch (mixed with 2 tablespoons of water to make a slurry, optional)

  • Roll the scallion pancake tightly and then cut the roll in half.


  • Add the beef to a large pot and pour enough water to cover the beef. Bring it to a boil over high heat and let the beef cook for 1 minute. You’ll notice scum and foam rising to the top of the water. Remove from heat, drain, and rinse the beef pieces thoroughly. Set them aside.
  • In a Dutch oven or another pot with a thick bottom, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the ginger, cloves, star anise, and bay leaves, and cook for 2-3 minutes until they become fragrant.
  • Turn up the heat to high and return the beef to the pot. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the beef pieces have a light browning on the edges.
  • Stir in the Shaoxing wine, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and oyster sauce. Bring it to a boil. Once boiling, add the water and sugar.
  • Cover the pot, and bring it to a boil again. When it’s boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 90 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the toughness of your beef. The liquid should maintain a gentle simmer. Stir the pot occasionally to prevent sticking or burning.
  • Gently incorporate the daikon into the mixture and continue cooking for another 45 minutes, or until the daikon becomes tender. Season with salt to your preference, and add the scallions just before serving.
  • If you want to thicken the sauce, you can create a slurry by mixing the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water. Pour the slurry into the simmering sauce, and stir until the sauce thickens slightly and takes on a glossy appearance. Add more slurry if the sauce is still too thin for your liking. Serve with steamed rice!

This renowned Cantonese dish, Chinese Braised Beef Stew, offers the comforting flavors of home-cooked goodness and is perfectly suited for this time of the year.

The ingredients are uncomplicated: beef, daikon radish (sometimes referred to as “turnips” in English), ginger, scallions, star anise, cloves, bay leaves, and Shaoxing wine.

All you need is a large pot and some patience (around 3 hours). It’s quite reminiscent of preparing a classic Western beef stew, where you start by simmering the beef in liquid for an extended period, followed by adding vegetables and cooking until they reach the desired tenderness. This method ensures that everything is perfectly cooked at the same time.

Kickstart this dish in the afternoon, and you’ll have ample time to catch up on chores, return to work, or even tackle that bathroom re-grouting project (which is precisely what WE did when we initially shared this recipe). It makes for a delectable dinner when served with a side of rice to savor the savory sauce, alongside some stir-fried leafy greens

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