Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Beef broccoli over jasmine rice

This may be surprising, but I don't often attempt to cook Asian cuisine. [Correction - I don't often attempt to cook Asian recipes that are *supposed* to taste a distinctive way. I do actually cook with Asian flavors all the time. Resume post!] I just feel like it's always missing something, I can never get it quite right - kind of like how I'll ask my mom for the recipe to make a Trini dish, and she'll describe it and I'll write it down explicitly, but mine never turns out as good as hers. Then one day I'll watch her make it she'll add in all kinds of other stuff and say, "Oh, didn't I mention that? Yes, you must add some of that. Well, I don't always add that, but today, I am."  And it always turns out better than mine. Job security, Mom.

Anyway, I've got Thai green curry and a simple little shrimp and cashew stir fry down pat, so it's time to branch out. Beef broccoli, y'all. The American Chinese-take-out staple. And really, it was quite easy and turned out pretty good. A little ginger-heavy, even for ginger people like us, so be careful - the ginger and garlic cook only very briefly so retain most of their pungency. Use a light hand.

Any cut of steak will do for the beef. I stumbled upon these beautifully marbled flatiron steaks they were practically giving away at Central Market which were extremely tender and flavorful. I wouldn't use the "good stuff" here, sirloin or flank steak would be just fine.

~ 1lb steak, sliced very thinly against the grain
few tsps soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 cup jasmine or any other rice you like
1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sherry
1 tbsp cornstarch
~ 1/2 - 1 tbsp ginger, microplaned or minced finely
~ 1-2 cloves garlic, microplaned or minced finely
1 Thai chili, minced, or a good pinch of red chili flakes
2 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 lb broccoli, cut into bite-sized chunks

Marinate your steak slices in a few teaspoons of soy sauce along with the sugar and a pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pop it into the fridge while you get everything else together.

Get your rice cooking in boiling salted water. My little trick for getting nice fluffy rice is to cook it until it's about done, then drain into a little metal sieve that fits back in the pot I used for cooking. Add a little bit of water to the pot, turn the heat on and cover to allow the rice steam for a couple of minutes. Nice fluffy rice ahoy!

Whisk together all of the ingredients for your sauce.

In a large heavy skillet or dutch oven, begin to brown your steak strips in small batches, removing them to a bowl as they brown on both sides. If you do too much steak at once, they'll just steam and turn gray - we want lovely brown caramelization action here, so be patient. When all the steak is seared and removed, add the broccoli to the pan along with a splash of chicken stock to scrape up all the tasty browned bits on the bottom. Let that go for just a minute, then add your sauce and beef back to the pot and cover for a minute. Uncover, stir, cover for another minute - you just want your sauce to thicken and your broccoli to get nice bright green and tender-crisp.

Plate up a mound of your impossibly fluffy fragrant jasmine rice and smother it with your beef broccoli. Sprinkle with scallions leftover from when you sliced them to sprinkle on crawfish etouffee last week and totally forgot about them on the cutting board until after you had eaten but hey at least it must have been good.

Serves 2, takes about half an hour.

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