Living by myself used to mean takeout. Lots and lots of takeout. Sometimes pizza, maybe a burger, but usually takeout meant Chinese. Because I’m fickle, I could never decide on exactly what I wanted, so I would usually leave the restaurant with two different entrees, rice, an egg roll and fortune cookies. Oh, and those little crunchy things with duck sauce. Economical? Not exactly. But leftover for days? Oh yes. I ate Chinese for dinner, breakfast, lunch and dinner. And breakfast again. Aka, the office microwave smelled like takeout Chinese for days. Whoops. Sorry old coworkers!!
Alas, as I’ve become older and have discovered my love for cooking, takeout has become less of a regular thing and more of a treat. Luckily, with recipes like the one below, you don’t need to order from your favorite Chinese restaurant in order to get your takeout fix! This recipe is courtesy of Ching-He Huang from the Cooking Channel, and her recipe is spot on. Deliciously crispy beef is courtesy of the two step cornstarch dredge, shallow fried, and then coated in a sticky, spicy-sweet sauce. The original recipe has it served over lettuce, but I served it with steamed green beans and cucumbers in order to up the veggie intake and make the beef stretch a bit further. In truth, this could be served with any steamed or lightly sautéed veggie (I’m looking at you, baby bok choy!).
I hope you’ll try this the next time a Chinese food craving hits, and that you like it as much as I do!
yang-yang crispy beef
Inspired and adapted from Ching-He Huang.
Peanut oil, for frying
1 lb sirloin steak, pounded to ¼ inch thick and very thinly sliced
3 tablespoons cornstarch
½ cucumber, seeds scooped out and thinly sliced into half-moons
1 bunch green beans, trimmed and steamed
1-2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
½ cup sweet chili sauce
1 small orange, juiced and zested (for garnish)
For the beef: Heat a wok over high heat and fill with 1 ½ – 2 cups peanut oil. Heat the oil to 350 degrees, or until a cube of bread turns golden brown in 15 seconds and floats to the surface.
Place the beef strips in a large bowl and add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Toss until beef has absorbed the cornstarch. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch right before frying and toss to coat. Fry the beef in 2-3 batches until golden, 3-4 minutes. Drain on paper towels and season with sea salt.
For the sauce: Set another wok or sauté pan over high heat and add the soy sauce, chili sauce and orange juice. Bring to a simmer and cook until sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon, 1-2 minutes. Toss the beef in the sauce and coat thoroughly. (Note: I actually drain off the oil from the first wok and reuse it for the sauce).
Arrange sliced cucumbers and green beans on serving dish and sprinkle with rice vinegar. If desired, garnish beef with scallions and orange zest.