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Mala Beef Jerky (Mala Niurougan, 牛肉干)

Adapted from Sichuan Cuisine in Both Chinese and English, published in 2010 by the Sichuan Higher Institute of Cuisine, Chengdu
Author: Taylor Holliday | The Mala Market | Inspiration & Ingredients for Sichuan Cooking


  • 1 pound beef steak (such as skirt, flatiron or flank)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
  • 4 tablespoons (a handful) Chinese braising spices (such as star anise, fennel, cassia bark, bay leaf, cloves, caoguo, sand ginger, etc.)
  • 1 inch ginger, thinly sliced
  • 2 green onions, cut in half
  • 1 cup peanut or canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons chili oil with flakes
  • 4 teaspoons Sichuan chili flakes
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon red or green Sichuan pepper powder (more if the pepper isn't fresh and strong)


  • Add 4 cups chicken broth to a medium sauce pan along with Shaoxing wine, Chinese spices, ginger and green onions. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and allow broth to simmer while you cook the beef.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add whole steak. Cook at a low boil for about 15 minutes, until it is mostly cooked through. Remove steak and let it cool enough to cut. Slice into thick batons about 1/2-inch wide and 2-3 inches long.
  • Heat wok until hot, then add 1 cup of oil or enough to deep-fry the meat. Heat oil to about 325° and add beef slices. Deep-fry beef until it is browned and crispy over half of the surface area. Remove from oil and set aside.
  • Returning to the spiced broth, remove it from heat and strain the broth, leaving the spices behind.
  • Pour off oil, clean wok and return to heat. When wok is hot, add about 1 tablespoon fresh oil to the wok as well as 1 CUP of the spiced broth, salt and sugar. Add the beef and bring the broth to a boil, then lower the heat and braise the beef at a low simmer for several minutes, until only 3-4 tablespoons of broth remains in the wok.
  • Turn heat off and add chili oil, chili flakes, sesame oil and Sichuan pepper powder. Mix all ingredients well, then remove beef to a serving bowl. When cool, sprinkle with sesame seeds and garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve at room temperature.


Remaining broth is delicious as a noodle soup base. Refrigerate or freeze for later use.