Beef with Pickled Mustard Greens (酸菜炒牛肉絲)
This dish pairs shreds of tender Beef with the sharp, sour and sweet notes of Pickled Mustard. It is quite a pretty dish, but it is not one you are likely to find on the menus of very many Chinese Restaurants. Indeed, this is the sort of rustic, simple fare prepared in the way that the Chinese call 家常, or ‘Home-Style’. You are much more likely to see this dish prepared as a simple meal for a family, or even a single-individual, perhaps with rice, or noodles. It is easy to prepare and is very hearty and delicious.
Notes on the Ingredients
If you are not quite familiar with the Greens you see above, you can take a look at my introductory post on Thai-Style Pickled Mustard. These pickled greens are quite easily available if you have decent Asian grocery markets in your community, and there will often be several different brands to choose from. You can also substitute other brine-fermented Mustard greens (sometimes available in cans), but these can be more sour than sweet, so you may wish to adjust with extra sugar.
Finally, there is no hard and fast rule that you have to use Pickled Mustard, whether it be Thai, Chinese, or something else. There are many pickled products to choose from, and the beauty of cooking this way is you can experiment and design your own signature flavor combinations.
The Basic Method
Some Pickled Mustard varieties can be quite salty, so check your see before using. If it is overly salty, you may wish to rinse it well under cold water to wash some of it away. Once dine, squeeze hard to remove the excess water and then chop the greens crosswise into thin strips.
Next, you will want to season your beef with the Pepper and then toss it with the Cornstarch, making it sure it is well coated. Let this sit for at least 10 minutes and, after the cornstarch has started to be absorbed by the beef slightly, shake away excess starch and then toss the shred with just a small splash of oil. This is not strictly necessary, but if you coat the shreds well, they will have less tendency to stick to each other when frying.
Heat your wok over high heat and then add a goodly amount of cooking oil. When the oil is shimmering and just starting to smoke, stir-fry the beef shreds in two batches, using chopsticks or some other suitable implement to separate the shreds. As each batch gets nicely browned and just a little crispy in places, remove it to a bowl. If necessary, drain out all but a tablespoon or so of oil from the wok.
The second part of the cooking process begins with briefly stir-frying the ginger and sugar until the ginger is giving of its aroma, and the sugar is just beginning to brown.
Now, apologies for having forgotten to take a picture of the final steps, but you next add the mustard greens and the wine and stir until the greens are hot and the liquid has reduced to a glaze. As soon as this happens, quickly add the beef, stir until heated through again, and serve immediately.
As I mentioned, 酸菜炒牛肉絲 is very rustic, simple sort of fare. A bed of Ramen turns a portion into a pretty filing meal!
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Beef with Pickled Mustard Greens
- 1 lb beefsteak cut into ‘matchstick’ shreds;
- ½ package Pickled Mustard Greens;
- ½ tsp. ground White Pepper;
- 1 ½ tbsp. Cornstarch;
- 1 tbsp. Sugar;
- 3 tbsp. Rice Wine;
- 2 thin slices of Ginger finely shredded;
- Briefly rinse the Mustard Greens under running water, squeeze out the excess, then slice the greens cross-wise into thin sections.
- Season the Beef Shreds with the pepper and then toss with the cornstarch.
- Brown the Beef in a generous amount of oil over moderately high heat, then remove and drain.
- Add the Ginger and Sugar to the pan and stir-fry until the aroma of the ginger arises.
- Stir in the Pickled Mustard Greens and the Rice and continue to stir until the liquid is reduced to a glaze.
- Add back the beef, stir-fry briskly until all is heated through, then serve immediately.