Monday, 7 October 2013

Beef with Cumin and Sichuan Broad Beans

Number two in operation “Open a Cookbook at Random”. Spookily Beef with Cumin was one that I first remember seeing (and thinking looked great) in Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook but as I tend to shy away from deep frying as I find it a bit of a faff (and don’t have a deep frying pot and can’t think of where to store the oil after) I never tried it. That’s not to say I haven’t attempted any of Fuchsia Dunlop’s other “deep fried” recipes as I have, namely here

Pre deep-frying is a method known as “velveting” which results in tender & juicy meat. When I have done it before the results really do speak for themselves but all the same I was glad to see a version of the same recipe in Every Grain of Rice where just stir-frying is employed. And more, what I found was that if you buy a good cut of beef - a very good sirloin steak in my case - and make sure to cut the slices across the grain, the result will be in my opinion, pretty close to that derived by velveting anyway.

As ever, this is slightly adapted and as I wanted a bit more sauce coating the meat I increased the quantities of marinade (bar the potato flour).

The chilli I had incidentally was quite large so I actually only used half of it in the end... that said, I’m effectively using 4 types of chilli here: fresh, dried and “red pepper” flakes and sedimented oil. The original recipe calls for dried chilli flakes and optional fresh which I’m sure would be quite sufficient. The other two I added for further depth of flavour and the fact that I bloody love Sichuanese chilli oil.

Overall this seems to be another great book from FD, her latest, and concentrates on Chinese (and again largely Hunanese and Sichuanese) “home cooking”. A lot of recipes showcase humble vegetables: very simple preparations that make these simple ingredients sing.

This broad bean recipe (not by the way chosen at random but selected as I had some fresh broad beans in the fridge) is a very good example; admittedly they are probably one of my favorite veg anyway but with just a couple of other ingredients and pretty quick cooking and prep they are taken to a whole other level.

Cumin with Beef - Zi ran niu rou (孜然牛肉)
serves 2

250g v. good quality beef steak, cut into 1-2cm wide slices 
½ red pepper, cut into strips 1–2cm wide on the diagonal
½ green pepper, ditto
4 tbsp rapeseed oil
2 tsp ginger, finely chopped 
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped 
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried chilli flakes (or to taste)
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tsp chilli oil with sediment
2 spring onions, green parts only, finely sliced
1 tsp sesame oil
for the marinade
4 tsp Shaoxing wine
½ tsp salt
1 tsp light soy sauce
1½ tsp dark soy sauce
1½ tsp potato flour

Mix the marinade ingredients with 1½ tbsp water in a bowl and stir the meat in. Set aside

Heat a wok over a high heat and when hot add 3 tbsp and swirl it around.

Add the beef (keeping the marinade to one side) and quickly stir-fry to separate the slices. When they have, but are still a bit pink, remove from the wok and set aside.

Return the wok to the flame with the remaining oil.

Add the ginger and garlic and allow them to sizzle for a few seconds until fragrant, then tip in the peppers and fresh chilli, and stirfry for a few minutes.

Add the beef slices and the marinade back into the wok, giving everything a good stir before adding the cumin, chilli oil and chilli & red pepper flakes. 

After a minute or so when it is all sizzling and fragrant add the spring onions. Stir around for 30 seconds then remove from the heat, stir in the sesame oil and serve with plain rice and the beans as below.

Sichuan-style Broad Beans with Spring Onion
serves 2

440g broad beans (about 145g podded)
1½ tbsp oil
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
2 spring onions, finely sliced
Sichuan pepper oil

Boil the podded beans in lightly salted water for 3-4 minutes then refresh under cold running water. When they are cool enough to handle, slip the skins off the broad beans.

Heat a small wok over a high flame, add the oil and thrown in the garlic & let sizzle for a few seconds.

Add the beans, the white parts of the spring onions and a little pinch of salt. Stir fry for a few minutes until the beans are heated through.

Add the green parts of the spring onions, stir around and then take off the heat. Sprinkle in a little Sichuan pepper oil and serve with the beef and steamed rice.

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