What a month it has been! Between teaching, launching Plate & Pencil, spending the holidays in Boston, getting the flu during the holidays in Boston, I've been a little behind on blogging. Little by little, I'm getting back into the swing of things though. Today I decided to update this simple but delicious Vietnamese beef stir-fry I first did almost two years ago. Its ingredients are minimal but the flavor is outstanding.
I was at my favorite butcher shop last week to buy some flank steak for dinner when I noticed some very nice-looking flat iron steaks in the display case. The last time I worked with flat iron steak was maybe in culinary school, but because it was about $4 a pound cheaper than the flank steak, I was curious how it would turn out in a stir-fry.
"I can just tenderize it here for you and you're good to go," said the butcher on duty, who then proceeded to pound the steak with a meat mallet before I could second-guess my choice.
Flat iron steak, also called top blade steak, is usually found only in specialty butcher shops because of its scarcity. It seems to be a relatively new cut of beef, developed by researchers from the University of Florida and University of Nebraska in the early 2000s when they were trying to find a way to use the meat from the top shoulder of the cow, which before had just gone to waste. With a good amount of marbling and deep flavor, flat iron steak is usually grilled when you find it in restaurants. But as I learned last week, it also takes to the wok like a charm.
I made a Vietnamese beef and green bean stir-fry, marinating it in my usual soy sauce/rice wine/cornstarch mixture. My friends Barb and Max came over for dinner, and I'm pretty certain they weren't just being polite when they said they really, really liked the dish. I think we all kept trying to scoop up more sauce with our forks even when the beef and green beans were all scarfed down. Oh yes, speaking of the sauce, it's a simple blend of fish sauce, soy sauce, and freshly ground black pepper. Yet the remarkable, slightly earthy flavor makes it taste like it's composed of 10 ingredients instead of just 3. Read More