Remember all that dumpling sauce? It seemed like a shame to dump it out after I'd finished the dumplings, especially because it had pretty good flavor: sweetened soy with a good dousing of vinegar and chili oil. I decided to marinate some strips of lean beef in the stuff before grilling, in sort of a bastard version of Korean bbq. At the last minute, though, I didn't feel like going to the trouble of borrowing and setting up the grill in my courtyard. I tried searing the meat on my stove instead, but by using a flimsy nonstick pan I did nothing but make the meat tough as it boiled in its own juices—I really need to get myself a cast-iron pan.
What to do? At that point, the only thing I could think of was to subject the meat to a long, slow braise, giving it hours in wet heat to become tender again. I added the remaining cup of dumpling sauce to a few cups of water in a Dutch oven, and then tumbled in the cubes of toughened meat. I doctored the brew with several cloves of garlic, a tablespoon of chili-garlic paste, and a few more glugs of soy sauce. And after letting the beef simmer for several hours, I threw in a block of diced tofu.
Because my original cut was so lean, the beef never did become perfectly tender, but the end results were pretty tasty nonetheless. Does this count as another "meal" that came out of my Chinese takeout?