A cut of beef that is often underused, Jacob's Ladder (also known as beef short rib) calls for long slow cooking until it melts in the mouth, falling off the bone. It is best to leave the meat to cool (preferably overnight) once it has been braised, so that you can easily skim off the fat before reheating and serving. The Asian flavours in this dish work well with the richness of the meat, balanced nicely with the fresh and zingy cucumbers. Serve with fluffy white rice.
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Here's how you do it
Add the oil to a hot frying pan and brown the meat on all sides. Snuggly place the browned meat in to a casserole dish.
Mix together the garlic, ginger, chilli, soy sauce, sugar and five spice then massage into the meat. Leave to marinate for an hour.
For the pickle, slice the cucumber into thin rounds, place in a colander and sprinkle with the salt. Leave for 20 minutes, covered with the weight of a plate. For the pickling liquid, gently heat a tablespoon of rice wine vinegar with 1/2 a tablespoon of sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Gently squeeze the liquid out of the cucumbers and place in a jar. Pour over the pickling liquid and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Add about 250ml cold water to the casserole dish so that the meat is just covered, put the lid on and place in an oven for 4 hours. Whilst cooking, keep checking that the meat is covered with liquid and add more if necessary. Once done the meat should easily fall off the bone. Now leave to cool (preferably overnight).
When ready to serve, skim the fat off the cooled braised meat. In the oven or on the hob, warm through the beef in its juice, then remove the pieces of meat and cover with foil to keep warm. Reduce the sauce on a high heat for about 5 minutes, so that it's rich and glossy.
To serve, coat the beef in the glossy sauce and serve with the pickled cucumbers on the side and a bowl of fluffy rice.