More and more I am overcoming a really weird ‘thing’ I have about cooking different varieties of asian dishes. It’s not a fear, or lack of want, but I think I have always had it in my head that there’s too many steps or I need to many ingredients I don’t have. I’m not sure, but it’s ridiculous and I’ve had to slap myself upside the head many times.
We love ‘take-out Chinese’ food at home, and I stress the ‘take-out’ description because us North Americans probably all know that none of what we eat here is traditional or “real”. When I lived in Vancouver, the design office I worked at for many years would always go out and celebrate a traditional Chinese New Years luncheon. I looked forward to it every year, and it was my first real taste at what real Chinese cuisine really was. Those traditional dim sum restaurants are a little hard to find around the area we live now however, so unless we are in the city, it’s ‘take-out Chinese’ for us. But it’s ok, because I love the stuff and crave it in fact. I love a plate of greasy mall-food-court-fake-Chinese food just as much as the next kid.
So that’s what this recipe is sort of inspired from. It’s a little like ‘take-out Chinese’ and a little like a crispy beef dish I had once in a dim sum restaurant in Vancouver called The Pink Pearl.
1 pound thinly sliced steak (round, skirt, flank etc) into bite sized pieces
½ cup cornstarch
1 ½ inches of canola oil in a heavy bottomed pot for frying
Sesame seeds & green onion for garnish – if desired
1 small onion diced in large chunks
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon cooking sherry
½ cup honey
¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
¼ cup cold water
½ tablespoon oyster sauce
½ tablespoon white rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon cooking sherry
5 teaspoons of cornstarch mixed with about 5 teaspoons of water (mix this slurry together until totally combined and then add it to the rest of the sauce mix to avoid clumping).
Mix all ingredients for the meat marinade and add it to a large plastic ziploc bag. Cut up your steak meat into thin, bite sized pieces and add it to the marinade bag. Place in fridge and leave for a minimum of an hour. A few hours is best.
Combine all ingredients for the sweet cooking sauce and set aside.
After beef has marinated, remove meat from the bag and remove the large chunks of onion. Place beef on a large dinner plate and add about 3 tablespoons of the cornstarch to the meat and mix until all the pieces are coated. Let this sit for 10 minutes. The coating will feel a bit pasty and sticky at this point.
In the meantime, heat up a heavy bottom cooking pan on your stove with about an inch and a half cooking oil to 350 degrees, checking a cooking thermometer for correct temperature.
After the beef has sat for 10 minutes, take another 2-3 tablespoons of cornstarch and coat it for a second time. The meat should now start feeling more dry and the cornstarch coating should be sticking to it in a thick coat.
Check your oil is hot and very carefully begin frying. You will want to make sure the beef pieces are separated before going in the oil and you will probably need to separate with your fingers and drop them in one at at time. Working quickly, fry in batches and cook for 1-2 minutes per batch, using a metal slotted spoon to remove cooked beef to a paper towel lined plate. Repeat until all the beef has been fried.
Once you have all the beef fried and on a plate, return the entire plate to the hot oil for one more full minute of cooking for a little extra crispy coating. Remove beef again with a metal slotted spoon, to a paper towel lined plate.
Drain the cooking oil carefully and return the cooking pan to the stove on medium heat and add in your sweet cooking sauce. (Note: for a thin glaze that just lightly coats your beef, only use about half the mixture. If you like your sauce rich and dripping then use the entire cup). The sauce will reduce and thicken quickly. Once it’s thick and bubbling, turn the heat off and add all the beef to the pan and coat it completely. Serve immediately with sesame seeds or green onion or any other garnish if desired.
Here’s how it turns out:
I started with my marinade and cut up my onion into fairly large chunks (easier to remove later!) and added the other ingredients to a bowl and mixed it all up.
Then I poured it into a ziploc bag.
I bought a pound of already thinly sliced angus round steak. I just had to cut it into thin little strips.
I added my meat into the marinade bag and placed it in the fridge. I suggest a minimum of an hour, but I did this in the morning that day so it had a good 5-6 hours in the fridge. The more flavor the better!
Later that day I started by making my sweet and sticky cooking sauce. I combined all the ingredients into a measuring cup except the cornstarch and water slurry.
I combined those two ingredients in a small cup and stirred them until totally smooth and then added them at the end to avoid clumps. It should look about like this once it’s all combined.
Then I took out my marinated beef and put it on a large plate and removed all the large onion chunks.
Take about 3 tablespoons of cornstarch and sprinkle it over the beef. Mix it in thoroughly until all the pieces have been coated. I’m not going to lie to you here. It’s sticky and pasty and all clumps together in a big mess and you might feel like yelling at me for even suggesting this as something you should do, but stay with me. I promise it will work! Just do your best at getting the meat coated. Leave this sit on your counter for about 10 minutes.
In the meantime get everything ready for cooking. Heat up your oil in your cooking pan. If you have a thermometer, you want your oil around 350 degrees. Have a plate lined with paper towel ready and you can have a metal slotted spoon at the ready for removing the beef from the oil later as well.
Then go back to your yucky looking beef…..add another 3 tablespoons of cornstarch to the plate and something magic happens….it all of the sudden gets sort of dry and crumbly feeling and starts to separate on it’s own as you mix it all around to get it all coated. It’s best to do this by hand. Now go wash your sticky hands. It’s time for the yummy-ness to start!
Very carefully, drop the meat in the hot oil in small batches so you don’t lower the temperature. You want to make sure the meat is all separated and I find the best way to do it is by hand. I will never recommend dropping something into hot oil by hand, but it’s actually the way I do it. I live really dangerously. It’s not smart, but it works for me. (Cringe).
Cook it for just over a minute or so and then use a metal slotted strainer/spoon or something similar to take it out of the oil and transfer to your paper towel lined plate.
Repeat with all of the meat until it’s all done.
Take this plate and carefully add it all back to the hot oil at once for a quick one minute fry to really crisp it up.
Put it back on your plate and carefully drain the hot oil out of your cooking pan. Put the pan back on your stove on medium heat and once the heat is back up, add in your sweet cooking sauce. You should have about 1 cup of sauce. I would suggest starting with half of it. That is technically enough to cover all of the beef if you want a very thin, light glaze. Personally, I don’t like to drench anything in a sauce. I always go light. But you might like it super rich and saucy, so in that case, add more if you think you should. It takes a little experimenting!
Because of your cornstarch, this sauce will reduce and get thick almost instantly. After 20-30 seconds you should have a thick sauce that is hot and bubbling. Turn your heat off.
Add the beef back to the pan and coat completely.
Plate this immediately and serve it hot!
I like to add a garnish to most things I cook so I sprinkled on some sesame seeds and green onion. I know people often say “I don’t care what it looks like! I just care what it tastes like!” I’m not one of those people. I have to like the way it looks before I eat it.
This dish is packed with flavor. It’s super crispy without having a thick dough-like batter like some deep fried things. It’s sweet and savory at the same time and the sticky sweet honey just makes it so incredible. Yummmmmm.
This is the perfect dish to serve with a simple side of white or jasmine steamed rice. You will want it to offset the richness of this dish.
Really good ‘take-out Chinese’ isn’t hard to make, in fact it’s quite easy with a little planning. I need to remind myself of this more often, because in all honesty, this is one of those dishes that is a million times better than anything I have ever had with take-out and I know it’s a lot healthier as well. This just made me hungry.
– The Homesteaders Wife