A Taste of the Eastern & Oriental Express


Asian-Style Braised Beef Cheeks

Recreate the flavour of a stunning Southeast Asian adventure in your own kitchen. This braised beef cheeks recipe, from Executive Head Chef Yannis Martineau, is the perfect way to capture the dining experience of the Eastern & Oriental Express.

The rumble of the engine. The emerald haze of passing palms. The copper rays of the setting sun glinting off vintage brass. A journey on the Eastern & Oriental Express luxury train is full of moments to cherish, but the stunning cuisine served aboard is sure to be a highlight of any trip.

French-born Yannis Martineau has lived and worked in Southeast Asia for more than a decade. He draws inspiration from his time in the region, taking traditional local recipes and infusing them with modern twists and European flourishes to stunning effect.

His braised beef cheeks are a great example of this gastronomic alchemy. The recipe is based on Bak Kut Teh, a traditional meat-bone soup that is very popular in Singapore and Malaysia. The dish is noted for its complex use of herbs and spices, including dong gui ginseng, cinnamon and star anise.

Chef Martineau replaces the typical pork ribs with beef cheeks, which boast a rich flavour and marbled fat making them ideal for slow cooking. Accompanying sautéed apricot bao mushrooms and rich, creamy potato mousseline add an extra layer of indulgence.

Follow along with Chef Martineau’s expert instructions, and anticipate a dinner party pièce de résistance that is sure to be a talking point for many months to come.



  • 2 beef cheeks (or beef brisket cut into pieces if cheeks not available)
  • 1 packet Bak Kut Teh herbs (available at all good Chinese supermarkets; you can use extra spices as below or dried ginseng and dried ginger if Bak Kut Teh is not available)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 garlic head
  • 2 star anises
  • 10g/⅓oz Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 20g/¾oz light soy sauce
  • 100g/3½oz dark soy sauce
  • 200g/7oz oyster sauce
  • 50g/1¾oz sugar
  • 1L/35fl oz water
  • 300g/10½fl oz veal stock (ready-made is fine, substitute with beef stock if veal not available)


  • 4 fresh apricot bao mushrooms
  • 40g/11⁄2oz raisins
  • ½ white onion (chopped)
  • 1 head garlic (chopped)
  • 30g/1oz balsamic vinegar
  • 30g/1oz sherry vinegar
  • Salt and pepper


  • 300g/10½ oz potatoes
  • 80g/2.8oz butter
  • 50ml/1¾ oz cream
  • 70ml/2.4fl oz milk
  • Salt and pepper



  • Preheat the oven to 110ºC/225ºF/gas 1⁄4.
  • Cut the majority of the fat off the beef cheeks.
  • Marinade the beef cheeks with the two soy sauces, rock salt and pepper for at least 2 hours.
  • In a large pan, brown off the chopped onion and garlic and then seal the beef on both sides.
  • Add the stock, Bak Kut Teh herbs, cinnamon stick, star anises, Szechuan peppercorns and bay leaf.
  • Boil for approximately ½ hour then add seasoning.
  • Cover the pan, reduce the heat and simmer for another ½ hour. Set aside.
  • Place the beef cheeks in a deep baking tray.
  • Pour in the Bak Kut Teh stock through a strainer and over the beef cheeks, then cover with aluminium foil.
  • Place in the oven and bake for 3-3½ hours until tender.
  • Drain the stock from the beef cheeks and save.
  • In a pan, season the stock to taste.


  • Sauté the garlic and white onion until brown.
  • Add in the apricot bao mushrooms and sauté until the fragrance emerges.
  • Add in the balsamic vinegar and sherry vinegar.
  • Add in the raisins.
  • Simmer until soft, then add sugar.
  • Season with salt and pepper.


  • Put the potatoes in a saucepan and add ½ teaspoon salt and enough milk and water to cover the potatoes. Only use a dash (20ml/2/3fl oz) of milk, enough to turn the water milky so the potatoes stay white.
  • Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes or until cooked. Drain the potatoes.
  • Pass the potatoes through a strainer to mash them. Set aside.
  • In a pan, heat up the 50ml/1¾ oz of milk and cream (be careful not to boil).
  • Add in the mashed potatoes and butter. Season with salt and pepper


  • Blanch the bok choy in a pan of boiling water with salt and 10g/1/3oz oil.
  • Cook and drain. Set aside.
  • Place a tablespoon of potato mousseline on a plate.
  • Arrange the beef cheeks with the apricot bao mushrooms on top.
  • Serve the bok choy on the side.
  • To finish, garnish with freshly chopped coriander and serve some chilli-garlic soy sauce in a separate dish.

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