Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chinese Beef with Asparagus

Other than the obvious vegetable substitution, there really is no difference between this dish and the more familiar beef with broccoli. I just like asparagus better.

(serves two adults and two children)

1 lb New York strip steak
1 lb asparagus
2-inch piece fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic
3 (or more) green onions
2 Tbs peanut oil

The Marinade
1 Tbs rice wine (or dry sherry)
1 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs cornstarch
½ tsp sugar

The Sauce
¼ c chicken broth
1 Tbs hoisin sauce
1 Tbs oyster sauce
1 Tbs cornstarch
1 tsp sugar

1. Trim the steak of excess fat. Halve it lengthwise and slice each half thinly to yield bite-size pieces. Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl, add the beef slices, and mix well. Set aside.

2. Trim the asparagus and slice them into inch-long lengths. Peel and julienne the ginger. Peel the garlic and chop it coarsely. Trim the green onions and slice them into half-inch lengths.

3. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.

4. Heat the peanut oil in a wok (or large cast-iron skillet) over high heat until it begins to smoke. Add the ginger, garlic, and white parts of the green onions. Stir-fry until the ginger and garlic become fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the beef and stir-fry until it's just cooked through, about another 1-2 minutes depending on the thickness of the beef slices. Remove from the wok.

5. Adding a little more oil if necessary, stir-fry the asparagus until it turns a darker green, about 1 minute. Add a scant ¼ cup of water and cover the wok immediately. Steam the asparagus for 3 minutes, then remove the cover and let the remaining water evaporate.

6. Add the sauce and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to thicken. Add the green parts of the green onions and return the cooked beef. Toss to combine. Once the beef has reheated, serve immediately.

• You can also use flank steak for this dish, but I prefer the tenderness of a nicely marbled strip steak.

• Some people deal with the woody ends of asparagus by peeling them to expose the tender core. I rarely have the patience for this, so I use a more brutal method: snapping off the ends of the spears. Tradition holds that a spear will naturally bend (and, if you apply enough force, break) at the spot where the tender tip of the shoot toughens and becomes woody.

• I cook this dish in a wok, and you should, too. Woks are remarkably easy to use (and clean) once you get the hang of them. But if you don’t have one, you can also use a large cast-iron skillet. Remember to let the pan heat first before adding the oil.

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