Saturday, April 27, 2013

Stir Fried Beef and Broccoli

This was one of my favorite dishes as a child and it was this dish that got my kids to eat broccoli - they still love it today.   It's also an often ordered dish at most Chinese restaurants and I am sure you have ordered it. So, now you can make it at home!  I make this dish fairly often.  The only tricky bit is peeling the broccoli stalks, if you are inclined to add them. They are actually my favorite part of broccoli as I love their crunchy texture. But if you want to skip that, you can buy the precut broccoli florets, although I advise cutting them into smaller pieces than you get in the package  Remember that most of the pieces of food in Chinese food needs to be about the same size. Broccoli needs a quick blanching in order to finish cooking in the  pan with the beef. And the kind of beef that is best to use is a fairly inexpensive cut such as Chuck Steak or Round Steak because they both have a lot of beef flavor. Flank Steak is probably the best, but it is no longer an inexpensive cut of beef, but I think it is worth the splurge.  Expensive cuts of beef are a little too soft for stir frying and kind of a waste in a stir fry to be honest. A Chinese tip: the beef is much easier to slice thin if it is partially frozen.  Add some garlic cloves and a few ordinary Chinese condiments (Oyster Sauce, Soy Sauce or Tamari), a little chicken broth and cornstarch and you have yourself a great dish by itself or as part of a Chinese meal. I serve this with rice to soak up the wonderful sauce. For me, this is Chinese comfort food.

Stir Fried Beef and Broccoli

1 pound Beef Chuck Steak, sliced against the grain into thin slice (about 1/4") and about 1/2" high by 1 1/2 " pieces long (longer of shorter is fine)

2 Tablepoons Rice Wine (or White Wine mixed with 1/4 teaspoon sugar)

2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce or Tamari

1/2 teaspoon Cornstarch

1 head of Broccoli, florets cut off and cut into small pieces, stalk peeled with a small paring knife and then cut into 1/4" slices

4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thin

3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil (I use high heat Safflower)

2/3 cup diluted chicken broth (1/2 broth and 1/2 water)

3 Tablespoons Oyster Sauce

1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce or Tamari

Black Pepper to taste (about 1/8 teaspoon)

1 teaspoon Cornstarch mixed with 1 teaspoon water to make a slurry

Put Beef slices, Rice Wine and Soy Sauce and 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch into a small bowl.  Use your hands to mix thoroughly and put aside while you get the broccoli and garlic ready. Bring a small pot of water to a boil.  Toss in the broccoli and cook until just softened but still slightly crisp - 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water immediately so that it doesn't keep cooking. Put aside.  

Heat a large frying pan or wok and then add in the oil.  Wait until it starts to pull together in the pan (which means it is hot enough).  Add in the garlic cloves and stir until they just start to change from white to beige.  Add in the beef (the pan should sizzle a lot).  Spread it out so that it has a chance to brown for a minute. Turn and toss and cook until it is just barely pink.  Then add in the broccoli and stir fry for a few minutes. Add in the chicken broth and let cook for a minute (while stirring). Then add in the Oyster Sauce and Soy Sauce and stir to combine.  Add in the cornstarch and water and stir until thickened.  Put in a large serving bowl and serve with steamed white rice. 

Five Element Analysis

Beef belongs to the Earth Element so that element is totally covered.  Broccoli is part of the Wood Element since it looks like little trees and the little bit of Chicken Broth adds a bit more.  The Oyster Sauce and Soy Sauce contribute the Water Element and the Rice Wine and Black Pepper bring in the Fire Element. Only the Metal Element is missing, so be sure to serve it with steamed white rice and you will actually have a balanced meal!

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