Friday, January 28, 2011

Beef with Red Pepper and Zucchini Stir Fry

I was down in Mexico City visiting my friends and offered to cook Chinese for two hungry teenage boys. I discovered with my own boys that stir fries are one of the best ways to get kids to eat vegetables. Besides that, the crisp texture of stir fried vegetables can convert many a young vegetable hater. Zucchini was one of those vegetables that my kids wouldn't eat when steamed, but devoured in this dish. And guess what? It was a hit once again. I also served Pan Fried Noodles with Chicken and Pea Pods that I will post another day.

Stir Fries are really easy to cook. The only hard part is getting all the ingredients prepped. So, cut up all the vegetables ahead of time and marinate the meat and mix the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and keep them all near the stove. Be sure to cut them all about the same size to make them easier to eat and much more attractive too. Then the actual cooking time will only be a few minutes in a wok or frying pan. Don't forget to cook the rice ahead of time too and rice cookers are great for that as they can keep rice warm for hours. Chinese cooking is really so much easier than people think and the ratio of small amounts of meat to a lot of vegetables makes it really healthy too!

Beef with Red Pepper and Zucchini Stir-Fry

1/2 pound beef steak - partially frozen and sliced thin into 1/2" by about 1" slices (I used Beef Chuck steak)
1 onion cut in half and sliced thin
1 red pepper cut in half, stem removed and sliced into thin strips about 1" long
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil

For Marinade:

2 Tablespoons Tamari
2 Tablespoons Rice Wine
1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon Pepper

For Sauce:

1/3 cup Chicken Broth
1 Tablespoon Tamari
1/2 teaspoon Sesame Oil
1/2 teaspoon Chili Garlic Sauce (I like Lee Kum Kee brand or you can use Sriracha)
1 teaspoon Cornstarch

Place meat in marinade and mix thoroughly with your hands. Then mix ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and put aside. In a wok or frying pan, heat oil and add onions to the pan. Cook until just translucent and then add red pepper and zucchini. Stir fry, moving spatula frequently through the vegetables until the red pepper has softened. Push them aside and put in meat, leaving it to brown softly before turning to brown other side. When the meat is just barely pink, add in the sauce and cook until thickened. Serve with white rice and additional chili sauce if you like it hotter.

Five Element Analysis

The various colors in this dish show you that there is going to be an inherent balance in this dish. However, it is primarily Earthy because both the Beef and the Zucchini belong to the Earth Element. The Red Pepper and Chili Garlic Sauce brings in the Fire Element and the Onion adds the Metal Element. The Chicken Broth contributes the Metal Element and so does the white Rice. The Tamari and Sesame Oil complete the elemental cycle by representing the Water Element. This dish is balanced all by itself!

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