Beef Cheeks and Tendon Claypot Rice is a Chinese dish of fork tender sweet savoury beef cheeks, melt in your mouth tendons finished off on top of a rice cooked on a claypot.
When I see claypot rice, it reminds me of Hong Kong. During my first years there I was amazed how the busy normal streets and alleyways of Hong Kong transforms at night into eateries that sells this specialty. Foldable tables, chairs and even mobile kitchens suddenly emerges once it turns dark, minutes later you will smell the aroma of the claypots boiling its way waiting for it to be consumed by a hungry customer, and once it is served, people don’t waste time setting it aside to be cold so they just devour it as it smokes down their mouth while inhaling cold winter air, I can see pain from their faces but the taste overpowers their ordeal.
During those first few months, I never had tried it because I rarely see one person eating this alone, so I decided that this dish was good if it is shared with someone. After a few months, I got used to my colleagues and most of them became close friends, this was the time I invited them to eat out like yum cha and this one. The first place I tried this was on Kowloon side where I first lived, and like the very first ones I saw it was on a normal street that becomes an open-air restaurant at night. There were many choices like chicken, seafood and pork, I never saw beef and I can understand why, since the protein needs to be cooked on top of the rice as it cooks, beef is not ideal for that, unless it was sliced thinly.
I am not sure if there is a beef version of claypot but I want to make one, while I am not fully cooking the beef and tendons on the rice pot as I will braise it first to make it fork tender, we will be finishing on top of the rice so it imparts that lovely flavour and fragrance on what’s inside that claypot.
In a really hot wok add peanut oil then brown beef cheeks and tendons. Remove the beef cheeks then set aside.
Add garlic and shallots, stir fry for a minute.
Add all remaining ingredients bring to a boil, cover then simmer for 1 1/2 hrs. in low heat. Add water if necessary.
Add beef cheeks back, cover then simmer for additional 1 1/2 hr.
At this stage the liquid should be thick in consistency, if not simmer in high heat until liquid is reduced. Turn heat off then set it aside.
Rinse rice in running cold water over a sieve until water is not starchy, drain well.
Prepare four small claypots, place claypots over stove top, add a thin layer of oil below, let it smoke.
Divide Claypot Rice ingredients in 6 equal portions then place the drained rice, pour water and mushroom water on each claypot, cover and let it boil, once boiling lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Place a good amount of Braised Beef and Tendons without the sauce on top of each claypot, then continue to cook in low heat for 15 minutes.
When rice is ready, turn the heat off, do not open the top so heat will not escape, leave it to cook with the residual heat for 10 more minutes.
Before serving, place blanched bok choy on the side then drizzle some Braised Beef and Tendons sauce on top.