Wednesday, April 6, 2011

CHINESE DINNER AT HOME

A quick stop at the grocery this past Saturday to pick up a bag of raw sugar and a small can of pineapple ended up, as usual, with me wandering the store oooohing and aaahing over everything.  The Giant Eagle at Chapel Hill is undergoing a bit of a transformation and I'm becoming far more infatuated with the store than any other in the GE chain around here.  They've got a lovely new cheese section, a sushi counter, expanded prepared foods counter that includes some tasty looking sandwiches and salads, plus a new salad bar.  I cannot wait to see what the rest of the store ends up looking like and could only hope that the GE store near my home might undergo this same transformation.

In any case, of course I took a saunter by the fresh meat counter and a small steak was peeking out from behind it's price tag more or less asking me to take it home.  Weighing in at less than 5 ounces, this mini top sirloin steak was the perfect size for my dinner one night the upcoming week.  Recent cravings for Chinese Beef and Broccoli was my inspiration for taking this steak home, so a quick turn through the produce department to pick up a few broccoli crowns and I was set.

Chinese cooking is not something I'm very adept at and frankly my palate isn't that sophisticated when it comes to this cuisine.  The only exposure I had to it growing up was Chicken Chow Mein in the can from La Choy, and to this day I haven't grown much past sweet and sour chicken and egg rolls and General Tso's chicken served up at the local House of Hunan.  I've seen friends order Beef and Broccoli and it's always looked so good, so this was my chance to try something new at home without giving up my General's chicken next time we hit the local Chinese restaurant. 

I found a basic recipe on the web for this and tweeked it a bit.  Adding some sugar snap peas (because I love all things pea related), a pinch of crushed hot pepper for spice and some cashews for added crunch and I think this turned out nicely.  Served over a bed of boil-in-bag brown rice the recipe as made with the quantities below did make a very generous portion.  This easily serves one very hungry person or one not-starving person with a small portion left over for lunch another day.

BEEF AND BROCCOLI

Simple ingrediants for my dinner tonight. 
For the sauce

2 teaspoons oyster sauce
 1/2 teaspoon Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup chicken broth or water


Prepare the sauce: Stir together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.


In a small bowl prepare the marinade (the bowl large enough to hold the sliced steak)
Combine the following:
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Add the steak to the marinade and let sit for 10-15 minutes

Meanwhile, blanch the broccoli: Cook the broccoli (or mixture of broccoli and peas)  in a small pot of boiling, salted water until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly.

Heat a large frying pan or wok over high heat until a bead of water sizzles and instantly evaporates upon contact. Add the cooking oil and swirl to coat.
Add the beef and immediately spread the beef out all over the surface of the wok or pan in a single layer (preferably not touching). Let the beef fry undisturbed for 1 minute.
Flip the beef slices over, add the garlic to the pan and fry for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute until no longer pink.
Pour in the sauce, add the blanched broccoli and bring to a boil. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes, if desired, and cook, stirring, until the sauce boils and thickens, about 30 seconds. 

Serve over the rice and sprinkle with chopped unsalted cashews. 

Nice modifications to this dish would be the addition of mushrooms or water chestnuts. 

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