Today’s dish is a fairly straightforward preparation that is really easy to put together. Beef and mushrooms always go together and, for this particular stir-fried version, I will be using Chinese Black Mushrooms (commonly known as Shiitake) and Shaoxing Wine for a bit of added depth…
- ¾ lbs. Beef, sliced in thick julienne shreds;
- 6 – 8 Dried Shiitake Mushrooms, reconstituted in water and sliced;
- 4 Scallions;
- 4 cloves of Garlic, chopped;
- 2 tbsp. Cornstarch;
- 1 pinch Baking Soda;
- 1 tsp. Sugar;
- ½ tsp. each Salt and White Pepper;
- ¾ cup of Chicken Stock;
- ¼ cup Shaoxing Wine;
- Cooking Oil (as needed).
Slice the scallions into two inch sections, keeping the white and green parts separate. Then, make a thin paste with 1 tablespoon of the cornstarch and a few tablespoons of water and then blend this with the wine, chicken stock and the sugar. Set this aside to use a sauce later.
Season the beef shreds with the salt and pepper and then toss them with the baking soda and cornstarch, kneading the starch into the meat until it is all absorbed. Finally, stir about a tablespoon or so of oil into the shreds to coat them as this will help them to separate when frying. Set the meat aside for now to allow the baking soda to tenderize the shreds.
To pre-cook the beef, heat a cup or two of oil in your wok over a medium-high flame and fry the shreds, in batches, until they are starting to turn nicely brown on the outside. If your heat is high enough, they should remain quite tender and juicy on the inside. This technique, sometimes known as ‘passing through the oil’ is one that is commonly employed in Chinese restaurants and produces a result that is difficult to duplicate otherwise. As the shreds become done, remove from the oil and transfer to a bowl for the time being.
When you are ready for the final cooking, drain all but two tablespoons of oil from the wok and turn up the heat to a high flame. Add the garlic and the white parts of the scallion and, as soon as the aroma arises, throw in the mushroom and stir fry until they are cooked through.
Finally, add the beef and the green parts of the scallion, sauté for a minute or so longer and then stir in the sauce mixture. Allow this to bubble and thicken and then serve immediately.
This dish is just one variation on a type I cook regularly and turned out largely as I expected. My only criticism is that it was a little light on saltiness, but this was fairly easily rectified with some soy sauce at the table. If you try this dish, you may wish to add a little extra salt, or light soy, at the same time you add the sauce mixture. Other than that, my wife and I enjoyed this meal very much…