I’ve been going through the blog this weekend to decide which recipes to include in the Taste of China Demo at Donnybrook Fair Cookery School on the evening of Wednesday 3rd July when chef Robert Jacob will cook a selection of Chinese dishes while I talk through the techniques of Chinese cooking and regional variations in cuisine.
Robert is one of the great “foodie” friends I’ve made through the blog and Twitter. He was a fashion designer before he became a chef and has worked with Ross Lewis in Chapter One and Paul Kelly in The Merrion. You can read Marie Claire Digby’s recent True Character profile of him for the Irish Times Magazine here. Before we got to know one another I attended a course he gave in knife skills so I owe any ability I have to dice and slice to him.
It’s a real privilege to team up with Robert for this class which is a first for Shananigans.
It’s less than 11 months since I started the blog and it’s always intriguing to see what recipes readers return to again and again. It gives me particular pleasure when I discover that one of the many lovely people I have met though the blog has taken one of the recipes and given it her own twist.
The crispy chilli beef recipe that I posted last November has been consistently one of the most popular recipes. Before I started the blog I would occasionally order something similar from the local Chinese takeaway but I always regretted it afterwards because it left me feeling heavy and bloated. So I had set out to create a lighter version at home using egg white and potato flour for the batter which makes it suitable for coeliacs and the wheat intolerant.
One of my most supportive readers Marie McKenna has taken the recipe a step further by adding pak choi. Sometimes she substitutes chicken for the beef or adds whatever other vegetables she has to hand. She sent me the two photos below of her results which I have reproduced with her permission.
I made crispy chilli beef for dinner for last night and we really loved the addition of the pak choi so I’ve tweaked the recipe to include it and made a few other minor changes. Thank you Marie for the inspiration and the photos. That’s what these recipes are for – to be shared and adapted.
Shananigans Crispy Chilli Beef – Xiang ciu niu rou pian – 香脆牛肉片
Photo courtesy of Marie McKenna
Serves 3 – 4
- 400g sirloin steak or bavette of beef
- 2 egg whites, beaten
- Good pinch of salt
- About 4 tbs potato flour
- A pinch of baking powder
- Oil for deep frying – use good quality sunflower or groundnut oil
- 2 carrots cut into thin matchsticks
- 2 heads pak choi, root removed and trimmed (optional)
- 2 spring onions thinly sliced at steep angles
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 2 red chillies, de-seeded and thinly sliced at steep angles
- About 80 g caster sugar
- 3 tbs Chinese black vinegar
- 2 tbs light soy sauce
- Roasted sesame seeds (optional) to garnish
- Coriander (optional) to garnish
- Rice to serve
- Cut the beef into slices against the grain and then into thin shreds.
- Dip in the egg white and mix with your hand, leaving it to rest for a few minutes.
- Mix the potato flour with salt and baking powder.
- Drain off any excess egg white and dip the beef strips in the flour mix, shaking off any excess.
- Blanch the carrots in boiling water for one minute,
- Fill a wok quarter full with oil and heat to 180 degrees (or until a piece of bread fries golden brown in 15 seconds).
- Add the beef quickly, stirring using long wooden chopsticks, a Chinese “spade” or a spatula to separate the strands. Cook the beef for 3 – 4 minutes, stirring to keep the strands separate, until it is really crispy.
- Remove with a mesh strainer or slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
- Pour the oil from the wok leaving about 1 tbs.
- Reheat the remaining oil over a medium/high heat. Stir fry the pak choi, if using, for a few minutes until wilted. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a warm serving dish
- Add another small amount of oil to the wok and re-heat over a medium/high heat. Add the spring onion, garlic and chilli and stir-fry for a few moments to release the aromas.
- Increase the heat to high, add the beef and carrots and stir to mix and heat through.
- Add the sugar, soy sauce and vinegar and stir to combine and dissolve the sugar. When heated through and bubbling, serve on top of the pak choi, if using.
- Garnish with coriander and/or lightly toasted sesame seeds, if using, and serve with steamed rice.
Photo courtesy of Marie McKenna
You can use almost any steak in this dish. At the start I used to use fillet steak but it is not necessary to have such an expensive cut. I find bavette of beef (also known as flank steak), which is available at good butchers, is a drier cut which responds particularly well to this recipe. It is also much better value. Sirloin works well and last night I used rib eye because I had two left over from a BBQ during the week.
Chicken thigh or breast can be used instead of beef and the chicken strips will take a little less time to cook.
Chinkiang Chinese black vinegar is readily available in all Asian supermarkets here and in some good grocers. It has excellent flavour. Last night I used aged Chinese vinegar – lao chen cu – which I brought back from Beijing. It is the type used as a dipping sauce for dumplings in China. The result was tangy and delicious. If you cant get hold of Chinese vinegar, use aged balsamic vinegar. The result wont be quite as authentic but it will still taste good.
If you are not using pak choi, you could serve this with a green vegetable such as steamed tender stem broccoli, or add a few green beans or broccoli florets to the stir fry.