Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Recipes Of The World: China

Good evening everyone! Tonight Maggie kicked off our recipes of the world week here on the blog. On a very rainy day here in the metro, it was nice to pretend to travel somewhere else (preferably more dry) even if it was just for a little while. When I entered the apartment this evening, smells of Chinese takeout filled the air. While Maggie and I are big chinese cuisine fans, tonight's recipe fell into a category neither of us have tried. By the end of the night, it was safe to say we got more than we bargained for!

For more on that, I'll turn it over to Maggie

The Recipe: Beef, Shiitake & Snow Pea Stir-Fry
Original Recipe Found In: Bon Appetit October 2010 Issue

What You'll Need:

1 Pound Top Sirloin Steak (Cut into 2 inch long, 1/4 thick slices)
1 Tablespoon Asian Sesame Oil
1 Tablespoon Minced Peeled Fresh Ginger
12 Ounces Fresh Shiitake Mushrooms (Stemmed, thickly sliced)
8 Ounces Snow Peas
1 Bunch Green Onions
1 Cup Fresh Cilantro Leaves
5 Tablespoons Hoisin Sauce
2 Teaspoons Chili-Garlic Sauce
1/4 Teaspoon Chinese Five Spice Powder

Good evening everyone!  As Tyler mentioned, we are on stop one of our journey around the (culinary) world.  And it was actually a delight this evening, because I finally got to break in our wok that we purchased several months ago.  And it was everything that wanted and more:  heated up really quick, cooled down even faster, and provided a nice cooking template for our recipe for this evening.

First, I started by chopping my green onions and cilantro.  Be warned: make sure you like the smell of cilantro, because it will stay on your hands for quite some time. Trust me on this one, I'm experiencing that first hand! After that, slice the meat into slices. It's recommended that you slice them into 2 inch strips, 1/4 thickness. However,  I sliced them shorter than two inches because the meat was a little thicker than I expecting.  Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper on both sides.

Heat the wok (or if a wok is not in your possession, a large nonstick skillet will do the trick,) with the oil over medium-high heat, until it begins a slow, slight smoke.  Add the ginger and mushrooms and stir fry until they are tender.  My mushrooms were rather thin, opposite of the thick the recipe calls for, so stir frying takes less than three minutes.

Add the beef to the wok and cook until the beef is browned, yet still pink on the inside.  Again, personal preference on this one:  I like my beef well done, as for my hubby, he enjoys a medium rare steak.  I tried to cook the beef to both our likings, which was about five minutes.  Add the snow peas, half of the green onion, and half of the cilantro, stir fry for three minutes.  

After the mixture is nice and combined, add the hoisin, chili-garlic, and five-spice powder and stir fry until the peas are tender - two minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer to plate and top with the rest of the green onions and cilantro.

The End Result:

The flavors worked so well together.  The beef with all the great natural seasonings of the peas, cilantro and green onion made this recipe pop.  The wok was a charm to work with and made this recipe a dream and I felt very confident when I finished that I completed something great.

Now, I am no expert on Chinese food and the spices they use when they cook.  But perhaps I should have done a little research on the spices, because...
The spices nearly melted our tongues and lips.  I wasn't expecting that big of punch from the spices we added.  I almost wanted to dip my head into a bowl of ice cream, but to no avail, there was no ice cream in the freezer.  Now, we could put the blame on the hoisin sauce, which was used liberally in this dish, but sometimes, things in small packages pack the biggest punch, i.e. the five-spice powder.  It was tough to say which spice made our mouths feel like eating lava, but this recipe was definitely a success in my mind.

Thanks Maggie! On most takeout menus, a very spicy dish will have a little chile pepper or a flame warning the customer that the dish is spicy. Tonight's recipe gave no such warning in the magazine (if they did, it would have been a picture of a tiny cow bursting into flames).  Needless to say, this was one intensely spicy dish.

That being said, once you 'recovered' from the initial heat wave, the flavors of the dish were very satisfying and blended nicely. One particular thing I enjoyed about this dish was how striking it was visually. The colors seemed to pop and contrast nicely on the plate. My lovely wife's presentation of this dish was superb, one of the best 'end result' pictures to date if I say so myself.

That's all we have for you this evening. Tomorrow is my day off, so I will be taking the kitchen over tomorrow night was a completely different dish. Be sure to stop by tomorrow night to see what I've got cooking. Until then,


1 comment:

  1. Chinese cuisine is very interesting, very tasty and delicious.