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It’s quite a long time since I did some Chinese wok dish on my blog – nevertheless I do it rather often at home (well: not always using my big wok, but rather a deep pan…). I like to read about dishes from the Far East on The Woks of Life as well as on Omnivore’s Cookbook. The recipes are based on the fact that in the Western hemisphere lots of Far East ingredients have to be found in a trusted food store especially concerning spices & herbs & special sauces. So you get the feeling of being genuine w/o having to harvest your very own soy beans & ferment them & let it mature… or trying to ransack your city’s food stores for any fresh original – Far East imported – special Chinese scallions.
I read about an interesting wok dish recently – interesting because the lack of any of the usual suspects from the spice rack. Indeed there aren’t any spices at all – only some sauces.
At the end of the day well get a hearty mess on plain white rice & it’s a perfect small weeknight dinner. The combination of beef, mushrooms, spring onions, ginger & garlic is basic – I’m sure you may take carrots instead of mushrooms as well (or any other rather solid vegetable).
Well – „pure Chinese beef“: it isn’t a beef-only dish, of course there are vegetables, but it’s the lack of any spices that let me to the title of this post!
So let’s start…
What do we need?
- spring onions
- fresh ginger
- fresh garlic
…& a mix of soy sauces (light & dark), oyster sauce, sesame oil & ground pepper.
The beef is cut into strips – I started w/ roulades so that the cutting was easy. Add some oyster sauce to the beef & let is rest until the wok session starts.
Afterwards chop the mushrooms – thin slices are fine.
Chop the spring onions & set the green parts aside. Mince the ginger & press the garlic; add to the chopped spring onions (the white parts).
Mix the sauces & set aside some dry white wine/dry sherry for the finishing touches.
For the record:
You may also use Shaoxing wine if available. I think that dry white wine or dry sherry are a good replacement.
Then grab your wok & heat some peanut oil until really hot.
Before you start the wok session make sure that everything is cleaned & trimmed & chopped & minced etc. In between the wok session you won’t have any time for it…
1st batch in the wok is the beef. You’ll need to stir-fry for about a minute or so. Afterwards put the beef in a bowl & set aside.
Dump the spring onions w/ the ginger & the garlic into the wok & stir-fry… If it seems a little too dry add a splash of water. After about 1-2 min add the mushrooms & stir-fry… When mixed add all of the sauce mix. The mushrooms are now swimming in liquid – just stir & bring to a boil.
Let it boil for about 5-10 min until most of the liquid is evaporated.
Then add the beef & stir for 1-2 min. Add the wine/sherry & stir…
Generally spoken: it’s ready for serving now!
There is a lot of liquid – more liquid than usually when doing wok dishes. So you mix some water w/ corn starch (or any other starch) & add the mix – spoonful by spoonful – until it’s the thickness you like.
You may also add some sesame oil at the end: it’s a nice flavor I like very much – but you need not.
So there is now this wonderful hot bowl of pure Chinese beef w/ some mushrooms, some chopped spring onions for an additional kick & plain white rice.
The rice… Either you cook the rice before the wok session or you grab some pre-cooked rice out of your fridge or freezer & let it reheat in the microwave while stir-frying.
I made a mistake.
Very often in Chinese resp. Far East originating recipes you’ll find something like:
„Cut the meat in small pieces, add some soy sauce & oyster sauce, mix some water w/ corn start & add to the meat.”
All this ends up in the wok. The corn starch… I wasn’t sure from the beginning. I’ve got a nice shiny wok – and then look at the disaster below! This happened when I started after having added a corn starch-water-mix to my beef. It was a tough thick crust on the bottom of my wok – & it took me time to clean it up.
So what to do?
- In my recipe I just skipped the corn starch-water-mix – and it’s fine.
- If you like to stay w/ the original recipes I recommend not to work w/ your wok, but to look for a deep non-stick pan.
The businesswoman w/ too many office hours thinks
It is rather salty because of the soy sauces & the ground white pepper gives you a substantial kick. All the common Chinese spices are missing – but you won’t miss the typical Chinese impact.
Overall you’ll need not more than about 30 min for dinner preparation… Is there any wish left?