Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The 21st Century Housewife’s© Beef and Black Bean Stir Fry

Whenever I have an authentic beef and black bean stir fry in a Chinese restaurant, it always seems to be served with green peppers. Now while sweet green peppers can be lovely, and no one can argue that the green of the peppers juxtaposes beautifully with the inky blackness of the bean sauce, I like a larger variety of vegetables with my stir fry. So recently I decided to experiment with a good black bean sauce, a nice piece of steak, and some of my favourite stir fry vegetables.

It’s integral you start with a good black bean sauce. Although I appreciate it would be more authentic to make my own, life is just too short! Sharwoods and Amoy make good ones, as does my favorite UK supermarket, Waitrose. I used their own-brand black bean sauce for this recipe.

I had a sirloin steak in the freezer, so I used that, but cheaper cuts like rump or minute steak work beautifully too. When I want to stir fry frozen beef, I just let it thaw just a bit before slicing it in ribbons. It’s so much easier to cut meat when it is a little bit frozen, and this in turn helps it to thaw more quickly. When I’m making a beef stir fry I cook the beef separately at the last minute and then add it to the vegetables afterwards. I find that in the case of beef stir fries, the vegetables need a bit more cooking than the beef, which is best if it is served when it is still a little bit pink.

I always like to choose my stir fry vegetables based on their colours as this makes the finished dish look so much prettier. This time I chose carrots, snow peas and red and yellow peppers, deciding to dispense entirely with the green ones. I like the look and taste of onion with black bean sauce so used both slices of red onion and spring onions (scallions). The layers of flavour this created were wonderful, but you can use whatever assortment of vegetables you enjoy - although I would encourage you to include peppers of some sort and also onions and scallions.

Stir fry is very often served with rice, but I usually serve it with noodles, mainly because we love them. My recipe might not be totally authentic, but it sure is delicious!

Serves 3 to 4 adults.

3 to 4 ‘nests’ of dried Chinese noodles
1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon sesame oil
half a medium red onion, finely sliced
3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on the diagonal, or cut in thin matchsticks (if you have the time!)
1 red pepper, de-seeded and thinly sliced
1 yellow pepper, de-seeded and thinly sliced
1 good handful of snow peas
1 bunch of spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
half a pound of steak, very thinly sliced
1/2 to 3/4 cup good ready made black bean sauce

Heat one tablespoon of sesame oil in a large non-stick frying pan or wok. Add the red onion, carrots and peppers and stir fry for two to three minutes. Now add the snow peas and scallions.

Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to package directions. Heat one teaspoon of sesame oil in a smaller non-stick frying pan. Lightly fry the slices of steak for about two minutes. Remember to keep stirring the vegetables in the other pan!

When the noodles are done, drain them in a sieve and divide between three to four plates. Add the cooked steak to the vegetables and add enough black bean sauce to just coat the ingredients. Stir and warm through.

Divide the stir fry between the plates, serving it over the noodles.

I’m linking this post up to Tasty Tuesday at Beauty and Bedlam, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace and Tuesdays at the Table at All the Small Stuff.

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