About 4 cups water(or optionally, chicken, beef, or pork stock, enough to cover the beef)
Salt(to taste, we used about 1 teaspoon)
First prepare a spice packet by securing all of the spices in two tea pouches or by tying them securely inside a piece of cheesecloth. That’s the cinnamon, cardamom pod, Sichuan peppercorns, star anise pods, cloves, dried tangerine peel, bay leaves, whole white peppercorns, dried liquorice slices, nutmeg, and fennel seeds.
Next, cut your beef shank into cross sections––2 to 3 equal pieces about 5-6” long. Put the beef shank and ginger into a medium pot, and fill it with enough water to cover the beef. Bring it to a boil, until you see a layer of grayish film forming on the water’s surface. Shut off the heat and pour everything into a colander in the sink. Rinse the beef clean, and wash the pot clean.
Put the beef back into the pot, and add the spice pouch, Shaoxing wine, garlic, scallions (I forgot to add this when I made it, but that doesn’t mean you have to, too!), rock sugar, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and 4 cups water or stock (it must be enough to cover the beef). Also add salt to taste.
Bring everything to a boil, then turn the heat down to a very slow simmer. Let it simmer for 60 to 90 minutes until fork tender.
Try not to overcook the beef, so it doesn’t lose its texture. Take the beef out, and store it, covered, to cool completely before slicing.
Alternatively, after the braising liquid is cooled completely, you can put the beef back in and let it soak in the sauce in the refrigerator overnight to intensify the flavors.