2 pounds boneless beef shin (brisket is fine)
3 to 4 cups cold water
5 TBLE soy sauce
2 TBLE Chinese rice wine or pale dry sherry
2 TBLE sugar
4 slices peeled fresh ginger root about 1″ in diameter and 1/8″ thick
1 whole star anise or 8 sections of star anise
1 TBLE sesame seed oil
Place the beef in a heavy 3 -4 qt saucepan and pour in 3-4 cups cold water, enough to just cover the meat. Bring to a boil over high heat and as the scum begins to rise to the surface of the water, skim it carefully. Then stir in soy, wine, sugar, ginger, and star anise and partially cover the pan. Reduce the heat to keep the liquid at a simmer, for 2 1/2-3 hours, or until it shows no resistance when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. There should be about 1 cup of cooking liquid left in the pan. If there is more, remove the cover and increase the heat somewhat, and cook until the liquid is reduced. Add the sesame-seed oil and simmer slowly for another 10 minutes.
When the meat is done, transfer it to a carving board and , with a cleaver or sharp knife, cut it into the thinnest possible slices. Arrange them attractively in overlapping layers on a platter. Remove and discard the ginger and star anise, and pour the braising sauce over the beef.
As main course, this recipe will serve 4-6. As part of Chinese meal, it will serve 8-10.