Friday, December 6, 2013

Wok Wednesdays: Spicy Dry-Fried Beef

The stars aligned tonight. My Shin santuko knife arrived in the mail yesterday. Plenty of fresh vegetables in the fridge. It's Friday night. No kids tonight which means things can get spicy.  In the kitchen, that is!  

I just signed up for Wok Wednesdays a week or so ago, and so I have plenty of recipes to catch up. After cooking this week's recipe on Tuesday, I decide to pick something that I was in the mood for tonight. My favorite stir fry photograph in Grace Young's Stir Frying to the Sky's Edge  is on page 64. When it comes to Chinese food, I gravitate towards stir fries that are dry. Less sauce. Lots of colors and texture. This recipe was perfect for tonight's dinner. Grace describes this dish that is "a little salty, fiery, and peppery with a touch of sweetness"...which sounds an awful lot like me. 

The main ingredients include a lean flank steak, carrots, celery, scallions, dried red chilies, ginger, garlic and sesame oil.  Love me some sesame oil. 

Trying to figure out how to measure two cups of carrots and one cup of celery was too painful for me think about especially on a Friday night. So I pretty much eyeballed the amounts of vegetables. Doubled up on garlic and ginger.  One can never have enough garlic and ginger. I substituted dried red chilies for fresh Thai chilies that were leftovers from the last recipe. I used three red chilies which gave the perfect kick in the arse.

 Like a kid with a new toy on Christmas day, I was pretty psyched about using my new knife. A Shun santuko. How did I deprive myself all these years without owning a Shun.  A sharp knife, for that matter. Like kneading bread dough, prep work in the kitchen for me has always been a relaxing activity. Tonight, slicing, mincing and chopping the vegetables was sheer pleasure. Like chocolate and a cabernet.

The recipe called for sautéing the julienne vegetables first...

Then searing the strips of flank steak ...

 The recipe calls for stir-frying the meat for 3 minutes till well browned, and all the liquid has disappeared, and the wok is almost dry. So I followed the recipe to the T, and even used a timer to count my minutes of searing and stirring.

The vegetables and meat are tossed together in the wok..

 In the last minute, the ginger and garlic are combined. And at the last second, sesame oil is added with salt and pepper.

This recipe was quite fun to make! This is my first time experiencing a dry-frying technique of the meat, which is typical Sichuan, according to Grace. I favor dishes where the vegetables are somewhat al dente. They are crisp to the bite and flavors remain. This dish makes an attractive photograph due to the vivid colors and contrasting textures of the crisp vegetables and tender meat.  I loved the peppery and fiery taste from the red chilies and the touch of sweetness from the carrots especially.  I loved it!

I loved this recipe.  Perfect blend of flavors: fiery and sweetness. What would I do different? The recipe calls for lean flank steak, cutting in 2 inch strips and against the grain. Perfect size. I thought the meat could have been more tender. This could mean  cutting some time off the 3 or so minutes, tossing the meat more often (less heat) , or possibly turning down the heat a bit. I think I was so caught up in reading, following directions to a T, managing the timer and trying to get some shots for the blog...that I should use my intuition.  Or what comes natural to me.

I served this with a bowl of jasmine rice and glass of wine. Cheers!

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