One of the joys of Chinese cooking is the possibility of dishing up a tasty meal in mere minutes.
In preparation for cooking Shan’s Black Pepper Beef I decided to do some homework on Chinese cooking. Thanks to a blogger/ tweeter friend The Silver Chicken @silverchicken1 I discovered Gok Cooks Chinese – a six week, Channel 4 TV series in which Gok Wan @therealgokwan, a well known fashion expert (who I have to admit I’d never heard of before today – sorry Gok) recreates his family’s recipes and cooks them alongside his Dad, Papa Wan.
So far I’ve only had the chance to watch the first episode on “Catch Up” on Channel 4’s 4oD App on iPad (only accessible in the UK and Ireland) but a few things were obvious – preparation is key – line up your bottled Chinese flavourings, have all the fresh ingredients prepped and in separate bowls in advance and cooking is a cinch. Visit http://dcwcasing.com/ for more details.
It wasn’t difficult to find Oyster sauce and Shaoxing Chinese Rice Wine in Good Food Ireland Member Kate’s Farm Shop in Wexford, Ireland along with all the fresh vegetables I needed and the excellent fillet beef came from Wallace’s SuperValu in Wellington Bridge, Wexford. I used groundnut oil for cooking to give that authentic Chinese flavour but rapeseed or sunflower oil could also be used,
Well man and woman cannot live on fried green beans alone so for our second recipe Shan set out to recreate a dish on the lines of the black pepper beef dish we enjoyed so much on our first night in Beijing in the Sichuan restaurant, Yuxiang Kitchen in Lido Square.
The recipe Shan came up with is a little different to the one we had that night but typical of this satisfying and versatile dish. Black pepper beef (HeiJiaoNiuLiu) Ingredients:
2 green peppers (change one of them to green chilli if you like it spicy)
1 small onion
250 gm fillet beef
Shaoxing rice wine
Ground black pepper (about half a teaspoon or more depending on taste)
Half of a green (spring) onion
Ginger (slice a piece about 0.5 cm from a chunk)
Clean and dry the beef and cut it into slices, about 3 cm long and 2 cm wide and 0.5cm thick.Put it into a soup dish.
Cut the green pepper into strips and slice asparagus to similar size; cut the onion to thin slices.
Chop green onion, garlic and ginger into fine pieces. Separate the egg white and yolk and keep the egg white.
Put following sauces into the soup dish with beef:
1 tbs of rice wine
Mix with your hand (to make sure no slice of beef is folded over on itself and you can rub in the flavour better this way) and leave for 5 minutes then drain it. Cooking:
Beef: Add oil in wok and put beef in when oil is hot; stir fry beef for about 2-3 minutes till you see the colour of beef change to dark brownish (it should be cooked already), turn the stove off and take the beef out.
Vegetables: Clean the wok and add 2 tbs of fresh oil (you don’t want vegetables to look brown), put finely chopped green onion, ginger and garlic in; stir fry for about 30 seconds or until you can smell the scent of garlic; put sliced onions in and stir fry for another 30 seconds; then add green pepper strips and asparagus slices in; add some salt and stir fry for about 1 minute, then put beef and ground pepper in and stir fry for 2-3 minutes.
The finished dish should look refreshing with green vegetables. You can also add a small amount of sliced carrots or change one the the green pepper to half a yellow and half a red pepper to make it even more colourful and nutritious. (Eat vegetable with different colour every day is important as the different colour reflects the vitamins/minerals it contains). See my first attempt at cooking this delicious recipe at Dishing up the beef. Second attempt…
I tried this again on 15th September 2012 when I had become a bit more familiar with Chinese cooking.
This time I had only strips of sirloin beef and no onion so I substituted half a leek thinly sliced for the onion and I used one green pepper, one red pepper and a green chilli.
I used light soy sauce in the marinade but I added an extra dash of soy sauce and oyster sure just before serving to darken the colour a bit.
That’s the joy of this dish – you can play around with the ingredients. All my lovely fresh vegetables came from Shankill Market Fresh, a great local shop based at the Barbecue Centre in Shankill, Dublin
The finished dish was very tasty and fast and easy to produce. A grand easy dinner for a Saturday night in and goes well with Gavi di Gavi wine 🙂
Now I should have warned you all that, much as I love food, I don’t pretend to be a sophisticated cook and results can be little hit and miss. All the same my first attempt at Shan’s fried green beans ended up tasting very good. I just need to get a bit better at judging the temperature of the oil in the wok so the peppers don’t burn.
I lined up my sichuan peppers, garlic and that dried leafy vegetable “men gan cai” beforehand
I actually added a small handful of the “mei gan cai” with the garlic and chilli but Shan tells me I would have been better to wash the dry leaves a bit, squeeze the water out and fry them with the minced pork.
I blanched the beans for one minute before adding them to the wok.
And the end result looked like this:
I served them with Torta Di Patate – a sour cream potato bake with aubergines and taleggio from a recipe by Gino d’Acampo and the unusual combination of Chinese and Italian recipes made for a lovely, filling Monday night supper. If you’d like to try a hand at this dish yourself, have a look at Shan’s Fried Green Beans Recipe. Please leave a comment too, I’d love to hear how you got on! But before you do so take a look at what I learned about a better way to cook these beans inside the Kitchen of the China Sichuan
Fried green beans was one of our favourite side dishes in Beijing. It is a staple in Chinese homestyle cooking but, done well, it’s delicious. There were a few ingredients I needed to go looking for in order to try out this recipe back here in Ireland.
Sichuan peppers were easy – Shan had brought a supply with her when she visited us at Christmas. The distinctive numbing sensation on the tongue and lips is not easily mistaken for anything else.
This is what they look like:
The dry leafy vegetable that she didn’t think I could find in Ireland was trickier to identify So I asked Shan to text me the pin yin and Chinese Characters for the vegetable in question. It’s called “mei gan cai” or 梅干菜. I took myself off with that information to the Asia Market in Drury St. Dublin. which is a great source of all manner of spices and sauces as well as offering great value in fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and fish.
Through a process of elimination using photos exchanged via iMessage,we identified this as the correct product:
I’m still not sure what this is so any suggestions would be welcome. Could it be a type of dried mustard leaf?
A few cloves of garlic again you can put more if you like it garlicy
Wash beans and use your hand to break them into 1 inch long pieces.
Boil water in a small pot if you wish to have a healthier dish.
Chop garlic and dried chilli into fine pieces.
Pork: put oil in wok and throw 1 tsp of Sichuan pepper in it, when it gets hot and you can smell the pepper then you can use a spade to take out the pepper if you don’t want to eat it accidently later. I usually take the wok to the sink and shovel them out and deal with it later. Then put minced pork in, fry till they are cooked, put a pinch of sugar and a small amount of soy sauce. When the meat looks golden brown, take the pork out and wash the wok and dry it.
Beans: put oil in wok, put chopped chilli and garlic in, when the oil gets hot, basically garlic starts to look brown, throw beans in (healthier version would be that beans are already boiled in the pot and drained, typically 1 minute in the boiling water is enough, the colour of green starts to look crispy green), fry the beans till it gets brown and bits of it almost look like it’s burnt then the beans are ready, see picture below.*
Final step: put cooked pork in and then add 2 table spoon of soy sauce, and some salt, fry a minute or two then it’s ready. I usually just put one in my mouth and check the flavour and if it’s cooked.
The picture below shows the finished dish and you will not have the really dark bits if the dry leafy vegetable is missing.
Take a look at my first attempt to cook this delicious recipe.
*Note: I later learned inside the kitchen of the China Sichuan that the easiest way to get the bubbly brown skin on the green beans is to deep-fry them very quickly in oil in the wok. Sichuan fried green beans – vegetarian version
250g – 350g green beans
Dried chilli – 4 to 6 pieces depending how spicy you want it to be (my tastes are getting spicier!)
2 spring onions, white parts only
3 cloves garlic
Piece of ginger, about 3 cms
2 tbs Tianjn preserved vegetable
Wash beans and use your hand to break them into 1 inch long pieces.
Boil water in a small pot and blanch the beans for about a minute. Drain well.
Finely slice the spring onion whites, garlic and ginger.
Heat wok over a high heat, add oil (about 2 tbs), then sizzle the Sichuan pepper and chillies briefly until they begin to darken and release the gorgeous smells.
Add the spring onion, garlic and ginger and stir-fry for a few moments to release their fragrance.
Add the Tianjin preserved vegetable and stir briefly.
Add the blanched beans and stir fry for a minute or two to coat in the spicy oil and brown slightly.
Stir in about a tsp of sesame oil and serve.
Absolutely delicious. I love both versions of this dish. The one with pork makes a simple supper on its own. The vegetarian version is a great side dish for pork or other meats.
If any of the ingredients in this post are unfamiliar check out Chinese Kitchen Essentials elsewhere on this blog.