Saturday, September 4, 2010

My best Chinois yet.

I love Chinese food, but making it at home can be a royal pain. It goes so quick and requires so many ingredients that I find myself stressed out trying to pull it together, with every pot, pan, and wooden spoon that I own dirty. Grr. So I have finally come up with a recipe that works beautifully for me, doesn't require a ridiculous amount of ingredients, tastes great, and left me with only one load of dishes. As it should be. Here's the recipe, then I have a few more comments to make. Cause I can't shut up?

Crispy beef stir fry

3/4-1lb round steak, very thinly sliced across the grain, lightly peppered
1/3 cup cornstarch
canola oil to 1" depth in a wok or large skillet
2 cups green beans
1 red or yellow bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 cup beef broth (low sodium would be best)
1 very heaping tablespoon of black bean garlic sauce
a couple splashes of vinegar (rice wine is great if you have it, if not any vinegar would be fine)
a dash of toasted sesame oil
a couple splashes of soy sauce (again low sodium if possible)
a couple squirts of honey
steamed white or brown rice

Heat oil over medium high heat. Combine broth, black bean garlic sauce, vinegar, honey, soy sauce, and sesame oil in a small bowl; stir well and set aside. In a zip top bag, toss the steak strips with the cornstarch to coat. Once the oil is hot, fry the steak in batches until very crisp and dark golden brown. Remove and place on a flour sack towel to drain. Carefully drain the oil out of your wok, leaving just enough to coat the pan, return the pan to high heat. Add the veggies and stir fry for 2-3 minutes, and then add the sauce mixture. Cook until the sauce is bubbly and starts to reduce and thicken, still over high heat. Once the veggies are cooked to your desired consistency, add the beef back in to the mixture, but do not toss to coat, as you will lose the crispiness. Serve over rice.

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Okay, so here are some things I wanted to mention.
  • I buy round steak only when it is super cheap (duh Megan, isn't that the point of this blog?). I paid $1.99/lb for it at Safeway, probably in May, and bought a motherlode. I cubed and sliced all of it and froze it in meal sized portions. I cannot tell you how handy this is!
  • I know you may not have black bean garlic sauce or sesame oil in your fridge, but you should. Really, these are the only 2 ingredients in this recipe that are the least bit exotic, but it makes the flavor of this meal. Buy the tiniest bottle of sesame oil you can find and keep it in the fridge, and seriously go light with this stuff, it is strong. I'm sorry I'm not more specific with measurements, but you're making stir fry, not a souffle, so you don't have to be precise.
  • It probably goes without saying, but you can use any veg that you like. Broccoli would be great, carrots would work, mushrooms would be nice, etc. The green beans were great, thanks to my husbands coworker who gave us a ton, and whose name I never got! We appreciate it!
  • I don't salt the beef because the broth, soy, and black bean sauce have plenty of salt in them.
  • I always used to make fried rice when I made a stir fry, and letting go of this compulsion has definitely made me more relaxed about stir fry. Fried rice is really easy, but I don't like having to tend to multiple things that all need to come together at once, so steamed rice is a better pick for me. Anyone interested in a fried rice recipe? The beef alone would be great with fried rice.
  • I have to thank Sandra Lee from the Food Network for the idea to coat the beef in cornstarch and fry it, she was making some kind of stir fry on Money Saving Meals, and that was the only part of the show I caught. Frying the beef is offset by the veggies, right?

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