Thrilled by our first meal from Grace Young’s “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge” we were excited to try another one of her recipes. Throughout the book, vivid photos accompanied many of them, making it hard to choose. We finally settled on the Stir-Fried Cumin-Scented Beef with Vegetables, a signature Hunan-style stir-fry of beef with cauliflower, carrots and tomatoes, seasoned with cumin, garlic, and red pepper flakes.
Apparently it is also an example of one of the more advanced stir-frying techniques, where chefs practice “jau yau,” or “passing through oil,” where bite-size pieces of meat, poultry or fish are blanched in oil before stir-frying. This process ensures that the ingredients will be more succulent and flavorful. And by golly, by gum, they were!
Always up for a challenge—and considering ourselves somewhat “advanced” in the cooking arena—we decided it’d be a “piece of cake!” And truth be told, it really was pretty simple, BUT you need to be prepared and move fast. Make sure all of your ingredients are cut to size and/or measured, and utensils are at the ready BEFORE you begin.
The night prior, Russ used up our scallions in another dish, and when I stopped at a local grocery store to pick up a bunch on my way home from work, they were completely sold out, so we improvised. I sliced up half of a small purple onion that was wrapped in the frig, throwing it in the wok at the same time as the other veggies. As a garnish, I minced up some fresh chives that added a nice pop of color.
Somehow we often end up with a myriad of leftover rice, potato or other side dishes tucked away for a few days in the refrigerator. So instead of cooking up another rice, we reheated some leftover wild rice that actually complimented the stir-fry quite well. Can’t wait to try another recipe!!
NOTE: We needed to increase the 2 minutes alloted to stir-fry the veggies to crisp-tender to more like 5 minutes. Plus I would double the amount of cherry tomatoes next time.
- 12 oz. lean flank steak
- 1 T. cornstarch
- 1 T. soy sauce
- 2 tsp. Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
- 1 T. plus 1½ cups peanut or vegetable oil
- 1 T. minced garlic
- ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 cup bite-sized cauliflower florets
- ½ cup thinly sliced carrots
- ½ cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- ¾ tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- ½ cup thinly sliced scallions
- Cut the beef with the grain into 2-inch-wide strips. Cut each strip across the grain into ¼-inch-thick slices.
- In a medium bowl, combine the beef, cornstarch, soy sauce and rice wine.
- Stir to combine. Stir in 1 T. of the oil. Heat the remaining 1½ cups oil in a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok over high heat until the oil registers 280 degrees on a deep-frying thermometer. Carefully add the beef and spread it evenly in one layer in the wok.
- Cook 15 seconds or until the beef is opaque but not cooked through. Turn off the heat.
- Remove the beef with a metal skimmer and put it on a plate lined with paper towels.
- Carefully remove the oil from the wok and reserve. Wash the wok and dry it thoroughly.
- Heat the wok over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact.
- Swirl in 1 T. of the reserved oil, add the garlic and red pepper flakes, then, using a metal spatula, stir-fry 20 seconds or until the aromatics are fragrant.
- Add the cauliflower, carrots and tomatoes, and sprinkle on ¼ tsp. salt.
- Reduce the heat to medium and stir-fry 2 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Add the cumin and stir-fry 5 seconds.
- Return the beef to the wok, add the scallions, and sprinkle on the remaining ½ tsp. salt. Increase the heat to high and stir-fry 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the beef is just cooked through.
— From “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge,” by Grace Young.