How did the summer fly by so quickly? It seemed like only yesterday that I was looking forward to Memorial Day picnics and plugging free summer movies and concerts into my Google Calendar. Where did the time go? What happened to my summer reading? Why have I not taken more beach trips? How have I not once used my ice cream maker that's taking up precious cabinet space, for the 4th year in a row?
You can see how fall would inspire an existential crisis. Harrumph. Onward and upward, I guess.
A few weeks ago, Kian Lam Kho from Red Cook asked me to take part in his Mid-Autumn Festival Blog Feast to celebrate his cookbook Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees. This gorgeously photographed book is a comprehensive tome on Chinese cooking techniques (think the Chinese version of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.) I was more than happy to oblige, fantasizing about the amazing red cooked pork from his book that I was going braise on the stove while sipping apple cider, as the crisp fall air—scented with pumpkin spice or something—circulates around my apartment.
Well, I was wrong. Just cuz Labor Day came and went does not mean the weather catches up. In terms of weather, we're still in the midst of summer in NY, and my AC is as wonky as ever. Braising will have to wait for another day.
Luckily, there was this stir-fried beef with black pepper recipe. It was fast, hearty, and made ample use of oyster sauce for an abundance of earthiness. The recipe also called for a generous amount of coarsely ground black pepper, which is used as a spice rather than a seasoning in Chinese cooking.
I made a few minor tweaks to the recipe, such as using hangar steak instead of beef tenderloin that it called for because my local butcher had it today and the marbling looked too good to pass up. Flank steak is another good option.
Oh! And for you guys, there is a bonus. Anolon is sponsoring Kian's Mid-Autumn Festival Blog Feast and will generously give some wonderful cookware to a one lucky Appetite for China reader. The winner of the giveaway will receive a Tri-Clad Stainless Steel 5-Quart covered Dutch oven (pictured below), a Tri-Clad Stainless Steel 10.75-inch Stir-Fry Pan (pictured above), as well as a copy of Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees. All you have to do is leave a comment below between now and Sunday, Oct 9th, 2016, and answer the question: "What Chinese dish do you want to learn that you haven't tried yet?" The winner will be chosen at random and will be notified by Oct. 11th (U.S. addresses only.)
For a side to go with the beef, I blanched some broccoli to go with my stir-fry in the Dutch oven. (Excuse the arm and camera on the lid. Byproduct of photographing something very reflective.) Pro-tip: to get your broccoli to stay bright green when it's blanched, add a teaspoon or two of baking soda to the water before adding the broccoli!
Here's the finished stir-fried beef. It was, obviously, quite delicious.
Though I'm still waiting for the cool, crisp air to kick in so I can satisfy my craving for red cooked pork.
Stir-Fried Beef with Black Pepper
Adapted from Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees by Kian Lam Kho
- 12 ounces beef tenderloin, hangar steak, or flank steak, cut against the grain into 1/8-inch thick slices
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
- 2 teaspoons coursely ground black pepper
- Scallion greens or cilantro sprigs for garnish
- 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine / Shaoxing cooking wine (or substitute dry sherry)
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon tapioca starch
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine / Shaoxing cooking wine (or substitute dry sherry)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 cup beef stock or water
- 2 teaspoons tapioca starch
- In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the velveting mixture and mix well. Add the beef and mix well. Let marinate for 20 minutes.
- Mix the sauce ingredients together in another bowl.
- Heat the 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat until it begins to shimmer, about 350 degrees F. Add the beef to the wok and quickly fry it for about 1 minute, until the meat is about three-quarters done or the exterior has turned brown. Remove the beef from the wok and set it aside on a plate.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the wok over high heat. Add the ginger, garlic, and onion. Stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Return the beef to the work and add the black peppercorns. Stir-fry for about 15 seconds, then add the sauce mixture. Cook until the sauce thickens about 2 minutes. Serve garnished with scallions or cilantro.