I am calling today’s dish ‘Shanghai’ style Beef with Greens and Mushrooms as I am using the small Shanghai variety of Bok Choy for the greens and using a sauce blend that would be very much at home in both eastern and southern China. Rather than the more typical Chinese Black Mushrooms, I am complementing the beef with nice large white Button Mushrooms instead…
- 1lb Beefsteak, sliced into strips;
- 2 – 3 Shanghai style Bok Choy;
- 2 – 3 cups sliced Button Mushrooms;
- ¾ cup good quality Stock;
- 2 tbsp. Shaoxing Wine;
- 1 tbsp. shredded Ginger;
- 1 tbsp. Soy sauce;
- 1 tsp. Sugar.
- 3 tsp. Cornstarch;
- 1 tsp. Baking Soda;
- 2 tbsp. Cooking Oil plus extra for stir-frying;
- Salt and Pepper.
First, season the beef strips with salt and pepper and then mix in the baking soda (to help tenderize the meat) and 1 healthy tsp. of the cornstarch, tossing well to coat all the pieces. Then, before the cornstarch gets absorbed and makes everything sticky, toss everything with 2 tbsp. of oil as this will prevent the pieces from clumping when you are frying.
Now stir together the stock (I used some of my Firepot Stock), the wine, soy sauce and sugar to make the sauce mixture and then add the remaining cornstarch that has first been mixed into a slurry with a couple of tablespoons of water. Set this aside for now.
Blanch the Bok Choy in boiling salted water for a minute or so, plunge into cold water to arrest the cooking, and then chop into fairly large sections. In all, you want about 2 or even 3 cups of greens for the finished dish.
Use the largest mushrooms you can find and slice them into sections roughly corresponding to the size of the beef strips. Next, brown them in oil, seasoning with salt and a generous amount of black pepper and remove to a bowl. You can do this part well in advance of the final cooking and, especially with very large mushrooms, it is preferable to precook in a separate pan as the very dark spores from the gills can otherwise discolor your final dish. Ideally, you should have between 1 to 2 cups of browned mushrooms but I only had sufficient to yield a little over 1 cup.
The last preliminary step is to deep-fry the beef strips prior to the final stir-fry with the remaining ingredients. This bit may seem like overkill but this is a common technique in Chinese cookery and one of those secrets you need to employ in order to get that otherwise elusive Chinese Restaurant taste. When you deep-fry it, do so, in batches, at a fairly high temperature until the outside browns and just starts to get crispy while leaving the inside only partially cooked to ensure later tenderness.
The other preparatory steps already previously discussed can all be done well in advance but this part should be done no more than 5 minutes or so at the most ahead of the final cooking. If you allow the meat to get cold it won’t have the same soft and juicy quality.
When you are ready, heat your wok over a high flame and add a tablespoon or two of oil (retrieved from the deep fry pan, if you like). When the oil starts to shimmer, add the mushrooms and ginger shreds, tossing until the ginger gives off its aroma.
Now add the greens and stir-fry rapidly until they wilt somewhat and a few brown spots appear.
Finally, throw in the beef, stir until it is heated through and then add the sauce mixture. When this bubbles and begins to thicken, plate and serve while still piping hot.
I served the beef dish with a side of rice that is not a typical Chinese fried rice preparation. It is, in fact, more Japanese in spirit and it represents an interesting style that I will have to share with you in more detail sometime.
Anyway, the beef was very nice and tender. My wife very much enjoyed it and will get to have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow. I just had two criticisms, but they were very minor. I though that the beef could have been just a teensy bit crispier on the surface and I also found that the seasoning was just a little flat. Luckily, I tasted it before serving and was able to rectify with a few extra splashes of soy sauce. If you decide to try this dish yourself, you may well want to increase the amount of soy added to the sauce mix. Otherwise, this was a pretty good dish.