Saturday, January 30, 2016

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

I have to confess that it took me a while to get my stir fry dishes to taste the way I thought that they should taste. I think part of  my problem was that I under seasoned the dish and that I had a reluctance to use some of the prepared sauces -- such as hoisin, oyster or teriyaki -- that are readily available in the grocery stores. These items allow you to get some almost authentic taste without purchasing a bunch of different spices that you'll only use now and then. Another revelation for me has been purchasing and using fresh ginger. You can freeze a "knob" of ginger, which means it will last a really long time. By freezing it, I've got it on hand when I need it. Fresh ginger makes the same fantastic difference in a dish that fresh garlic does, as opposed to using garlic powder. It is, however, spicier than you think, so proceed with caution. Use a  microplane grater for grating the ginger --you'll achieve better results than with a box grater. You must peel off the tough outer layer before you begin to grate it and you'll need a really sharp knife to do that. You can also mince it, but be sure to mince it very finely.

This beef and broccoli stir fry hits the spot on a cold winter night. It evolved simply from what I had on hand in my freezer and pantry. It's pretty quick and easy, and delicious. Skip the take-out this week and try my tasty Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry! The key to successful stir frying is to do the prep work in advance. Once you begin to actually cook, it will take very  little time. Since rice takes longer -- especially if you use brown rice -- start that first, 30 minutes or so before you begin to stir fry. I like to add a cube of bouillon to the water and use that in place of salt in the rice, but either way works fine. You can also serve this over rice noodles if you prefer.

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry
serves 4

For the stir fry: 
3/4 lb. lean sirloin or tenderloin tips, cut into bite size pieces  
1/2 tsp. Chinese 5 Spice Blend (always at my grocery store) aka "Pae-Lo" Powder                               1 T. soy sauce
2 cups broccoli florets, fresh or frozen (if frozen, rinse them and let them thaw a little bit)
1 medium onion, halved and sliced (no need to be too thin)
1/4 c. carrot cut into match sticks or shaved with a vegetable slicer
2 tsp.  minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
1 - 2  tsp. grated fresh ginger (or 1/2 tsp. ginger powder)
1 c. quartered (if very large) or halved mushrooms (shiitake if you can find them, otherwise use button or baby bellas)
1 small can sliced water chestnuts, optional
Peanut oil for frying

For the sauce:
1 cube beef bouillon
3/4 c, water
2 T. hoisin sauce
1 T. soy sauce
1 T. sriracha sauce
2 tsp. seasoned rice wine vinegar
1T. teriyaki sauce
pinch of salt
a pinch of dried red pepper flakes (if you like a little heat)
1 heaping T. corn starch

2 cups rice for serving ( I used a 1/2 brown 1/2 white rice mixture)

Cut your beef into bite sized pieces and lay them on a paper towel to dry. This will help with the searing.   While the beef is drying off, prepare your vegetables, ginger and garlic.
Drying the beef.
Veggie prep.

Get out your wok or a big, heavy frying pan and preheat it on medium high heat. You want the pan to be HOT. Prepare your ingredients in advance, this goes quickly!

Get the sauce ready before you begin. Heat the water and dissolve the bouillon cube in it. Add all the remaining ingredients -- except for the corn starch! -- and stir well to combine.

Big ol' wok with beef and onions.
Pour enough peanut oil to coat the bottom of the pan's' surface in a thin layer. When the oil begins to shimmer, you are ready to begin the stir fry. Add the beef to the skillet in a single layer. Sprinkle the beef with the 5 Spice Blend. Let the beef sear before you begin to move it around in the pan. This happens pretty quickly so be ready with a long spoon to stir with.  I always wear an apron when stir frying. The oil is hot and it will splatter! When the beef is light brown all over, add the onions.

When the onions start to turn gold and soften, add the soy sauce and then the broccoli, carrots and garlic. Continue to stir for about 3 minutes, then add the mushrooms. Be careful not to break them up -- that's why I recommend quartering or halving them as opposed to slicing them. Lastly, add the water chestnuts, if using. They add a nice crunch!
Ready for the sauce.
Now it's time to add the sauce. Stir the corn starch into the sauce right before you pour it over the stir fry in the skillet. Make sure all of the corn starch is dissolved. Mix the sauce gently in the skillet and turn the heat down once it begins to bubble. Cover the pan -- I have an extra large lid, but a sheet of aluminum foil will work fine. Let everything cook together about 5 minutes -- or until the vegetables are as soft as YOU like them. Serve over rice  (or rice noodles if you prefer).

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry, close up.
This batch didn't have water chestnuts in it, simply because there weren't any in the pantry! 

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