February 23, 2011

Sichuan Beef with Carrots and Celery

Chinese food is delicious and incredibly efficient! This dish, served with rice, is basically a well rounded meal! Look at us eating all the food groups! Not to mention tasty, and with a fair amount of heat! The most time you'll spend with this recipe is prepping the ingredients, but once you start cooking it, it is done very quickly! I recommend cooking your rice at the same time, that way they will be done at the same time (I cook my rice on the stove for 15 minutes).

Sichuan Beef with Carrots and Celery
1.25 lb. flank steak (or rump steak, or filet)
2 cups plus 2 Tbsp. oil (I use canola oil for this, use an oil that can get very hot, not olive oil)
2 medium carrots
3-5 celery ribs (depending on size, I used 5 small celery ribs)
1 Tbsp. ginger root (finely chopped)
2 green onions (white parts only, finely chopped)
1 Tbsp. chili garlic paste (or plain chili paste)
2 Tbsp. soy sauce or shoyu (shoyu is a type of soy sauce)
1 Tbsp. white wine
1/2 Tbsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. sichuan peppercorn powder

A few thoughts on the spiciness before we start- this dish has some heat! Which, I love, but you may want to start with less heat. I'd recommend reducing both the chili paste as well as the sichuan peppercorn powder. I'd reduce each by more than half to get something in the mild category, I think if you just halve the amounts it will still be fairly spicy. Sichuan peppercorns and sichuan peppercorn powder may be a little hard to find- I went to four stores and had no luck. I eventually ordered a bag of sichuan peppercorns from Amazon and to make my powder, I toasted the peppercorns in a small skillet until fragrant and then I ground them in a spice mill. Sichuan peppercorns are from the province of Sichuan in China and they have a delightful aroma and taste! They are worth a little bit of trouble to try to get :) Another common spelling of Sichuan is Szechwan.

Let's get started! Cut your steak into strips that are about 2 inches long and no wider than 1/2 an inch. Heat 2 cups of canola oil in either a wok or a stock pot, I don't have a wok, so I use a stock pot. Heat on medium high- a 6 or a 7 on a medium sized gas burner is what I use. When the oil is heated, add the beef strips, cover partially with the pot's lid. You'll be cooking the beef this way for a total of 12 minutes, I recommend stirring after 6 minutes to make sure all the pieces are submerged. What you're doing is getting the texture consistent, the outside of the beef will be browned and a little chewy / crispy. When 12 minutes has passed, remove using a slotted spoon and set aside.

While the beef is cooking, get your ginger root, green onion and chili paste ready. Also prepare your carrots and celery. After peeling your carrots and cutting off the root, make into similar sized strips to the beef. Same for the celery. Finally, in a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, wine, sesame oil, water, cornstarch and sichuan peppercorn powder. Use a fork or a whisk to combine gently.

In a new pot, heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. canola oil over medium high heat. Add the ginger, green onion and chili paste, cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the carrots and celery, cook for another 2 minutes. Add the beef and the liquid mixture, stir to combine and coat with the liquid. Cook only for about another 1-2 minutes, you don't want all the liquid to evaporate, a little bit of sauce is good to have. You're done! Serve over white or brown rice.

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