After several weeks of indulgent holiday meals and dining out, I craved something simple... a dish with few main ingredients... a one-skillet dish that incorporated fresh, crunchy vegetables... Of course! a stir fry. Quick memory flashback to a favorite, near-forgotten dish, a stir fry recipe from a cookbook that never fails to inspire, Tyler Florence's Real Kitchen. My copy of this 2003 gem is covered with yellow Magic Marker highlights, pencilled notations and a generous spattering of food stains from uber-enthusiastic cooking.
Stir Frying - hmmmm, I've grown quite relaxed about this preparation, ignoring written recipes and working more freeform. Sometimes this approach succeeds and other times, well... not so much. Today I pulled out the Real Kitchen cookbook and worked off the original recipe, exchanging ingredients as necessary but following the printed procedure. Examples: I ground 1 star anise, 5 cloves, 1/8 tsp coriander seeds, 1/4 tsp fennel seed, plus 1/4 tsp cinnamon in a spice grinder to replace the Chinese 5-spice powder missing from my pantry. I used beef chuck already on hand instead of the recommended round steak. Canola oil replaced the specified peanut oil. Balsamic vinegar subbed for Chinese black vinegar.
The results? Still delicious, and every bit as good as remembered.
Stir-Fried Beef with Oranges, Green Beans and Chiles
Adapted from Tyler Florence’s Real Kitchen
1 egg white
½ tsp hot sesame oil
1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
1 TBS cornstarch
Ground white pepper
1 lbs boneless beef, sliced very thin (slice when semi-frozen)
2 cups oil (I used canola)
1 orange or 2 Mandarins or Clementines, unpeeled, sliced in paper-thin rounds
2 TBS cornstarch, divided
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled & minced or grated
4 fresh garlic cloves, minced
2 green onions, minced
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
¾ lbs fresh green beans, halved and blanched
¼ cup low sodium Chicken Stock
2 TBS low sodium soy sauce
1 TBS balsamic vinegar
1 TBS Mirin (or sugar)
2 TBS toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Marinate the Beef:
Whisk together the egg white, sesame oil, five spice powder and cornstarch. Add white pepper to season. Toss the beef strips in the marinade to coat thoroughly; refrigerate for 30 minutes or more.
Cook the Orange Rounds:
Heat the oil in a wok over high heat to 350 degrees F. Toss the orange slices with 1-tablespoon of cornstarch. Fry the oranges until crisp and beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove with a strainer and drain on a plate covered with layered paper-towels.
Finish the Dish:Bring the oil back up to temperature and stir-fry the beef in small batches for 2 minutes; remove to a paper-towel covered plate to drain. Repeat with the remaining batches of beef.
Carefully pour the hot oil into a heat-proof container. Return ¼ cup oil to the wok and reheat the pan. Stir fry the ginger, garlic, green onions and chiles until fragrant. Add the green beans, season with salt and white pepper (optional).
Mix the chicken stock with the remaining 1-tablespoon of cornstarch and add to the pan; stir in the soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and Mirin or sugar. Simmer until the beans are tender and the sauce is thick (3-4 minutes if the beans are very thin and pre-blanched, up to 10 minutes for thicker, raw beans).
Return the beef and orange slices to the pan, toss to coat. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and serve with steamed rice.