Tag Archives: takeout

One step closer to my ultimate goal.

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Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Five years ago, standing in a Fort Lauderdale swimming pool on the last day of vacation, I made a commitment. I would go an entire year without eating any takeout or delivered food.

That commitment, so easily made watching the Florida sunset while sipping a cocktail. was just as easily broken when I returned home. In fairness, I think I made it about a month before Moo Shi chicken and pork dumplings were delivered at the end of a long and stressful day.

Wherefore the failure? My entire plan hinged on learning to make the Asian favorites I couldn’t live without. While I’ve mastered light, vegetable filled Egg Foo Yung, Thai stir-fried eggplant and near-legendary dumplings, the rest of the cannon has eluded me. Until now.

Last Saturday, carrying home a beautiful cold-crop of broccoli from the market, I was bound and determined to stir-fry it with beef, bright with ginger and the salty-earthy taste of soy. My first attempt, however, was an abject failure. Sharp onions turned sweet, broccoli browned before turning tender, and the beef was insipid.

Fixing those mistakes turned out as delicious as it was simple. Quick-steaming broccoli in rice wine (thanks for the tip Chris Brush!) produced bright-green, tender florets. Sautéing the beef in batches produced a crisp sear surrounding silky meat, and replacing onions with scallions kept the flavor sharp and green.

I have yet to master Moo Shi, but I am one step close to another attempt at my ultimate goal of eliminating takeout. And we do have another vacation scheduled in that pool…

Stir Fried Beef, Broccoli And Scallions

READ THIS! No wok needed for this stove-top, skillet friendly version. There are, however, two things to keep in mind. First, prep all of your ingredients first. Secondly, there are several steps beginning with marinating the beef. The broccoli is cooked first, followed by the beef, which is cooked in three batches. Finally, you stir-fry the scallions and return the beef and broccoli to the pan, adding the sauce at the end. It feels like a lot of steps until you do it the first time, but I promise the process is simple and the outcome delicious!

Serves 6-8

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Photography by Sam Armocido

  • 1 egg white
  • 5 tbs tamari soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup plus 4 tbs rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 lbs skirt steak
  • 2 tbs tapioca or corn starch
  • 2 tbs Wasabi Sesame Oil* or toasted sesame oil
  • 6 tbs plus 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 bunches scallions, whites and greens trimmed and cut in 2” pieces
  • 1” ginger, cut in thin matchsticks

*Where do you get yummy Wasabi Sesame Oil? Stop in or order online from Sapore Oil and Vinegar in Washington, DC. I drizzle it over fresh, steamed veggie and use it as a sauce for fish, chicken and beef. 

Directions:

  • Cut the skirt steak into long, 2-3″ wide strips. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes.
  • Remove steak from the freezer and slice thinly, on the bias – that’s a diagonal toward the cutting board. The goal is to increase the surface are you are searing.
  • Whisk together the egg white, 2 tbs soy sauce, and 2 tbs rice wine in a medium bowl. Mix in steak. Add 1 tbs tapioca starch and mix in with your hands to coat. Add 1 tablespoon Wasabi Sesame Oil and toss with your hands, separating the meat. Let marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • In a 12” skillet over medium heat, warm 1 tbs vegetable oil. Add garlic and cook, turning until browned. Remove garlic and discard.
  • Add broccoli to pan and stir fry 1 minute, add 1/3 cup rice wine and cover. Cook until wine evaporates, about 3-5 minutes. Remove broccoli from skillet and reserve.
  • Return pan to medium-high heat. Add 2 tbs vegetable oil. Cook beef to medium rare in 3 batches, being careful not to crowd. Add an additional tablespoon of oil between batches. Reserve beef.
  • Whisk together sauce ingredients: 3 tbs soy sauce, 1 tbs starch, and 1/4 cup warm water. Reserve.
  • Return pan to heat with 1 tbs vegetable oil. Add garlic and cook, turning until browned. Remove garlic and discard.
  • Add scallions to skillet and stir-fry for 1 minute. Return broccoli to skillet with scallions and cook 1 minute longer. Return reserved beef to skillet and heat through, 1 minute.
  • Move ingredients to the edge of the skillet, opening up the center of the pan. Heat 1 tsp oil in pan and add ginger, stir-frying for 30 seconds.
  • Re-whisk sauce. The starch may have settled on the bottom of the bowl. Add the sauce to the middle of the pan and cook, tossing with beef and broccoli to coat.
  • Add 2 tbs rice wine, and toss ingredients, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze.
  • Drizzle the remaining 1 tbs Wasabi Sesame Oil over the dish and toss, cooking 1 minute longer to glaze the ingredients.

Take out takeout.

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I love Asian food. Much to my husband, Jason’s, regret, I could eat it every meal of every day. If I had to pick favorites, they would be mú xī pork, tom yum soup and Thai eggplant. In pursuit of better health and frugality, I want to know how to make these at home.

It’s easier said than done. I’ve tried five recipes each for mú xī’s combination of cabbage, egg and pork wrapped in light, wheat flour pancakes, and the spicy, bright flavors of lemon grass, kaffir lime, cilantro and stock I’ve downed in bowl after bowl of tom yum. All to no avail.

Last week, after three dinners in a row of Thai eggplant, I finally cracked the code. Extra palm sugar and soy help lift and balance the earthy bitterness of the eggplant. Thai basil, chili oil and vinegar make it bright. Red peppers and shitake mushrooms give depth of flavor.

Now back to work on the other two*. Sorry honey.

*I’d welcome any suggestions on these two dishes! The sooner I get them right, the sooner Jason gets to stop eating my attempts week after week.

Stir Fried Eggplant

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbs peanut oil
  • 4 cups Thai or Japanese* eggplant cut in 1.5” cubes
  • 2 cups thinly sliced Shitake mushrooms
  • 1 medium red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Thai or Italian (common) basil, not packed

Sauce:

  • 2 tbs each soy sauce
  • 2 tbs palm sugar*
  • 1 tbs fish sauce
  • 1 tbs Merken Chile Oil*
  • 1 tbs Serrano Chile Honey Vinegar*
  • 1 tbs cornstarch

*Substitutions: Yes, there are a lot of ingredients here, and many you may not have on hand. Here are some easy substitutes. Thai eggplant are small and thin. You can cube a large, Italian eggplant and use that instead. Palm sugar tastes identical to Maple sugar. You can use brown sugar too. Merken Chile Oil and Serrano Chile Honey Vinegar are both from Sapore in DC. I’ve gone through two bottles of the Serrano Chile Honey Vinegar since Renee introduced it a month ago. Order them online, or use chili oil and rice wine vinegar from the Asian section of your grocery store.

Directions:

  • Heat 2 tbs peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add eggplant and cook approximately 5 minutes until softened and golden. The eggplant will look translucent. Remove from pan.
  • Reduce heat slightly, add remaining tbs peanut oil in same skillet and add red pepper and Shitakes. Cook 3-5 minutes until softened.
  • While mushrooms and peppers cook, whisk together the sauce ingredients in a separate bowl with 1/4 cup warm water.
  • Add garlic and return eggplant to pan. Cook 1 minute.
  • Whisk sauce and add to pan. Stir with ingredients until it is reduced and coats the vegetables.
  • Add basil, stir through. Season to taste with white pepper and serve.