Instant Pot Chinese Beef Curry

I’ve been feeling a little low because the little Scottie we were going to adopt and in fact had started fostering for more than a week, was taken back by the owner. This was inexplicable – a bit like a baby being taken away from the adoptive parents. It didn’t take long for us to bond with the fella and many tears were shed in the household as a result.

So I was mooning around the house and trying to keep myself preoccupied and as always, cooking has been very much my therapy whether I’m sad, mad or glad. There is something innately soothing about chopping and stirring. I needed a little comfort food, but I was more in the mood for Asian today and I changed my mind about using the thawed out beef cheeks for a beef stew.

Interestingly enough, as much as the Japanese have adopted curry into their cuisine and made it distinctly Japanese, the Chinese in Southern China also incorporated curry that was brought by Indian monks into their cuisine. This version of curry is closer to the Hong Kong version of curry; in Singapore curry is unapologetically hot and spicy and this is probably more Chinese in flavour as it has soy sauce, rice wine and Chu Hou paste in it. Chu Hou paste is actually made from a combination of soy beans, garlic and ginger. It is the backbone of most Cantonese beef brisket recipes and I was pleasantly surprised by the perfectly balanced flavours brought by the partnership of curry powder and Chu Hou paste!

This recipe needed the extra step of reducing the gravy and thickening it by pureeing the vegetables in the gravy. This thick and smooth and slightly sweet gravy completely engulfed the tender pieces of beef. Kid#2 who is curry-phobic was actually pleasantly surprised that she was eating curry tonight. The dish also drew praise from my father-in-law who only eats really soft food in fear that his dental implants would come out. The beef was perfectly tender and succulent. In the end, this simple meal was a heartwarming ending to a tough week.

Instant Pot Chinese Beef Curry

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print


  • 1 kg beef cheeks or beef brisket, cut into 1.5-2 inch chunks
  • 1 medium onion, cut into large chunks
  • 3 cloves of garlic, left whole but crushed with the side of the knife
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 knob ginger, about 1 inch width
  • 1 tbsp Chu Hou paste
  • 2 tbsp Madras Curry powder
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Chinese rice wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Method
    1. Turn on the sauté mode for the Instant Pot.
      Add 2 tbsp vegetable oil. When hot and smoking slightly, add the beef pieces, searing all sides and cooking in batches. Remove from pot and set aside.
      Add the remaining 1 tbsp oil to the pot and sauté the onions, ginger and garlic for 2 – 3 minutes.
      Add the curry powder and Chu Hou paste and stir fry for 1-2 minutes.
      Add the beef back into the pot, with the carrots, chicken stock, water, dark soy sauce and rice wine. Make sure the beef is almost fully immersed in the liquid.
      Turn off the sauté mode, close the pot and turn the valve to the sealed position. Pressure cook on high for 45 minutes.
      Do natural pressure release. Skim the oil off the surface of the gravy.
      Remove the meat pieces and put into a casserole dish. Set aside.
      Turn the sauté mode on. Add the coconut milk and simmer for about 15 minutes till the gravy has reduced to about 1/2 to 2/3 original volume.
      Remove the knob of ginger and discard. With a hand blender, blend the carrots and onions in the gravy, then pour the gravy over the beef pieces.
      Serve hot with some turmeric cauliflower rice. The rice recipe can be found with my Instant Pot Rendang recipe.


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