Chinese take-out, without leaving home......tender, delightfully crusty steak strips, cuddled up with al dente broccoli, cloaked in a sauce boasting the tang of garlic and fresh ginger, with an earthy punch of black pepper.
Next time I think I'll leave out the broccoli and try it with some fresh tomato quarters. Yeah, Mongolian Black Pepper Tomato Beef. Something tells me that the 'base' recipe here will be very versatile to play around with.
But, first things first. This rather tasty dish which effortlessly oozes a medley of flavours and textures is a true schmucking together of 3 recipes. I studied, I read and re-read, and then I started to meld the enticingly tasty sounding Mongolian Beef from The Woks of LIfe, Stir Fried Beef with Black Pepper from Viet World Kitchen and Steamy Kitchen's Chinese Broccoli Beef Noodle Stir Fry. Not that each one of these dishes wouldn't be rather scrumptious on their own, but I was on a mission you might say. And, golly gee, I think I hit paydirt!
And, I got to velvet. So if anyone asks me, 'What did you do yesterday?" I get to say, "I velveted!".
Velveting meat or poultry is maybe one of the best-kept Chinese restaurant secrets. There seems to be at least a handful of varying methods, but the end result should always reap juicy, tender, big flavour, meaty bites. Okay, okay, so maybe not a secret, so much as a technique that we home cooks don't often use.
Velveting involves marinating thin strips of meat in a base mixture of saltiness, liquid and cornstarch for at least 30 minutes to ensure every smidgeon of the meat is coated with the slurry. This layer of cornstarch forms a shield against the heat of the pan and prevents the moisture inside the meat from escaping when flash fried. The outside of the meat cooks zip-zap-quickly in the hot wok sealing in the meats' juices. Tender tastiness captured!
I did one little extra step of dredging the marinated steak strips in cornstarch, right before frying. That worked.
This is one of those recipes where you can get everything ready ahead of time, in little bowls, making it easy peasy to stir-fry when it's time for dinner. Bonus! And you get to velvet!
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MONGOLIAN BLACK PEPPER BEEF BROCCOLI - 4 servings
1 pound ribeye (I pick well-marbled ribeye anyday!), tenderloin, or top sirloin steak, sliced against the grain into thin (1/4-inch thick) slices
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine, sake or extra dry white vermouth
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons canola, corn or veggie oil
3-4 cups broccoli florets, par-steamed 4-5 minutes, set aside to cool
6 thin slices fresh, peeled, ginger root, halved
3 plump garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 medium sweet onion, diced chunky
1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
3 green onions, cut into 1/2 - 1 inch long pieces, sliced on the diagonal
3/4 cup chicken broth or water
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
3 tablespoons Shaoxing wine, sake or extra dry white vermouth (I used vermouth in both the velveting mixture + sauce)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
Additional 1/2 cup cornstarch
About 1/3 - 1/2 cup canola, corn or veggie oil
In a medium bowl combine the steak strips with the velveting mixture ingredients. Marinate beef 1 hour.
Meanwhile, near your stove, set out par-steamed, cooled broccoli, sliced ginger, garlic, onion, black pepper and green onions.
Mix all sauce ingredients together in small bowl.
Put 1/2 cup cornstarch onto plate, for dredging the marinated beef.
Dredge the meat in the cornstarch, coating evening and shaking off excess. Heat oil in wok, on high. Just before the oil starts to smoke, spread 1/2 of the beef as evenly as possible in wok, and let sear for 1 minute (depending on the heat of your wok). Turn over and let the other side sear for another 30 seconds. Remove beef to sheet pan; tilt it slightly to let the oil drain to one side (lean on a cookbook or cutting board). The beef should be seared with a crusty coating. Repeat with the rest of the beef.
Drain all but 2 tablespoons oil from wok and add onion. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, then add garlic and ginger, adding a tablespoon or so of oil, if needed. Stir fry another 30 seconds to 1 minute and add sauce, stirring as you do. Bring the sauce to a bubble, add broccoli and turn to coat in sauce. Stir fry about 2 minutes so broccoli is heated through, adjusting heat if necessary.
Add beef, black pepper and green onions and toss everything for another 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately with hot steamed rice. Mmmm......Velvety!!!