Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Measurements and Merriments

My mom should open up a catering business because she is a fabulous cook, as was my mom's mom. When I was younger there was meal or two where certain things were cooked and I would never have thought them to be edible (chicken feet, pig feet, octopus legs, etc). I was never brave enough to try the extremely unique fare (another of my weaknesses about food) but on the whole, I was raised on a very eclectic, very divine selection of foods prepared by my mom and grandma. As much as I try to match their cleverness in the kitchen, I often miss the food prepared by their hands. (oh and I will also say that my baba is/was a good cook too - he made us Japanese food on a few evenings and weighty pancakes slathered in peanut butter on Saturday mornings.... ) I love Chinese food and I learned how to cook many Chinese dishes from my mom and grandma. That said, I don't have many recipes written down because the way we would cook would be by taste, by look, by feel, and not by impersonal units of measurement. But sometimes, I just have to have quantities in writing!
Here is my classic example: Beef and Broccoli. I feel like every time I make it it comes out slightly different. There was one time when I made it and we happened to invite the Cordova clan over and I would have to say that was the best I've ever made it. I don't know what I did differently but the meat was so tender and so flavorful... and I think I made it with snow peas instead of Broccoli which are interchangeable in this recipe. Then I think I made it for them a year or so later and it was pretty mediocre. I am finding I should really write things down but when I go to write it down, it is so hard to quantify what looks, feels, and tastes right. Am I making any sense?
Ok enough chit chat, here it is, I wrote things down and I hope they work for you! I made this the other night and I must say it came pretty close to that glorious time with the Cordovas. My apologies to all my HK family who probably know how to do this a better way and if so, go ahead and send your suggestions.

THE Beef and Broccoli Recipe

meat and marinade:
3/4 to 1 lb beef, either round steak or round roast, red red red
2 tsp ginger, peeled, minced or pureed*
1 Tb rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
2 Tb soy sauce
1 Tb water
1 Tb cornstarch
freshly ground pepper to taste

for sauce:
1/4 to 1/3 cup oyster sauce
2 Tb water
1 tsp cornstarch mixed with 1 Tb water

for broccoli:
3 fresh broccoli crowns, cut into bite size pieces, or use packaged cut fresh broccoli
2 garlic cloves, minced
a few Tb oil for frying (vegetable or canola)
1/2 cup water

for garnish:
one green onion, sliced thinly
toasted sesame seeds

*I often times get a chunk of ginger and don't end up using it all in one meal. I find it helpful to puree all of the ginger for a few reasons 1) I find kids eat the meal better if there are no huge ginger chunks to bite into 2) many recipes I have, like Indian curries, call for pureed ginger so it is convenient to have 3) it freezes well and I will spoon out a couple tsp, bag it, and freeze them for later use.

1. Cut the beef across the grain as thin as you possibly can. Even if it comes out torn and funny looking, you will want it paper thin so sharpen those blades! When you feel the meat, if you can press you finger through the strip with little effort, you know it will be nice and tender to chew. If you want the kiddies to eat it, make it thin and tender!

2. Add the marinade ingredients to the beef, stir, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
3. While beef is marinading, prepare the vegetables. Wash and drain the broccoli. Heat up your wok and add the oil. When the oil is med hot, add the broccoli and the garlic and stir fry briefly. Do not fully cook the broccoli or burn it here! You want it a bit raw still. After a few minutes of stir frying, add the 1/2 cup water to the wok, and cover, allowing the broccoli to steam cook a bit. Keep covered for 4 - 5 minutes, until it turns a bright green and is tender but still crisp. Remove from the wok and drain. Place broccoli on platter.
4. Stir fry the beef in a couple Tb of oil with all of the marinade. Cook thoroughly, making sure the pieces are separated. When beef is cooked, add sauce ingredients and cook until thickened. If it is not like a gravy consistency, add more cornstarch/water mixture. If it is too thick add more water or some soy sauce to thin down. (I seem to think I could have used a little more sauce here so maybe do 1 1/2 times or double the sauce recipe)
5. Spoon beef and sauce on top of broccoli. Sprinkle green onion and toasted sesame seeds on top. Serve with cooked Jasmine rice.

Optional: as mentioned before you can do this with snow peas instead of broccoli. The only difference is that you need to de-string them and snip the ends and leave them whole and the cook time will need to be shortened as thy cook faster than broccoli.

It served the three of us plus enough for one lunch leftover - we probably ate more than one helping each though...

Good luck and happy eating, from our kitchen to yours!

1 comment:

  1. Yummm... I'm going to have to try that. Thanks for sharing!


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