Sunday, October 28, 2007

Beef with Broccoli

Friday October 26

Since we buy things at Findlay Market according to freshness and seasonality rather than off a shopping list, we sometimes forget what we've got in the fridge to cook. This time, it was a broccoli hiding in the vedge bins, but we managed to catch it before it became a science experiment. A quick paw through the freezer came up with a pound block of London broil, which is perfect for slicing into strips for a Chinese stir-fry, i.e. the classic Chinese beef with broccoli (actually, broccoli with beef).

We've already discussed Barbara's Philosophy of Stir-Frying.

While Holt cut up the broccoli into small flowerets, skinned the stems, and cut them into half-inch strips, and also minced a couple-three cloves of garlic, Barbara sliced the beef into quarter-inch-thick, two-inch-long strips, and marinated it in a Tbsp. of oyster sauce, a Tbsp. of soy sauce, two teaspoons of Shao Xing wine, a teaspoon of sesame oil, a quarter teaspoon of sugar, and a dusting of black pepper. Oyster sauce isn't really traditional in this dish, but it needs something to keep from being bland.

Once everything was chopped and standing by, we heated the wok to medium, poured in a good dose of oil, and stir-fried the broccoli florets with a little salt for about five minutes, adding the garlic halfway along and the broccoli stems a minute after; you'd be surprised how tender the stems are once they're skinned and sliced. When the florets looked dark green, we added a couple of cubes of frozen veal stock, lowered the heat, and covered the wok, letting it steam until the broccoli florets were tender and the liquid was absorbed. We then put the vegetables aside and reheated the wok, this time on high. We then stir-fried the beef strips very quickly in oil, only to the point where they were not red-raw on either side. Then we threw the broccoli back in, tasted it for balance (it needed a little more soy and oyster sauce), stir-fried until the whole thing was hot, anointed with a little sesame oil, and served.

With the good-quality beef available in America, we don't need to slice it paper-thin as Chinese chefs usually do. Instead, keep it tender by stir-frying it only to very rare initially; that way it will reach medium-rare when you're reheating the vegetables with it.

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