This riff on the ever-evolving Chinese American standard features gai lan (Chinese broccoli) and filet mignon: The luxurious cut is ideal for quick, high-heat cooking; is readily available in small portions; and just needed a brief chill in the freezer to firm up for easy slicing before being coated in a simple mixture of soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and cornstarch.
While the meat chills, slice the gai lan stalks thin on the bias and cut the tender leaves into wide ribbons. Start the stir-fry by cooking the stalks in oil in a hot wok. As they sizzle, the oil smolders, infusing the dish with a smoky aroma. Then set the stalks aside and stir-fry the leaves with garlic and toasted sesame oil, speeding their cooking with a small but flavorful addition of chicken broth before arranging them on a serving platter.
Finally, stir-fry the marinated beef; returned the stalks to the wok; and stir in a blend of chicken broth, oyster sauce, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, toasted sesame oil, and cornstarch. The sauce thickens in less than a minute. Arrange the beef mixture over the leaves, ensuring that each bite is perfectly sauced. If desired, serve with steamed rice.
If gai lan is unavailable, you can use broccolini, substituting the florets for the gai lan leaves. Do not use standard broccoli. In the end, we found it served 3 sufficiently, or 4 “small plates”.
Stir-Fried Beef and Gai Lan
- 1 (8-oz.) center-cut filet mignon, trimmed
- 1 lb. gai lan, stalks trimmed
- 5 tsp. Shaoxing wine or dry sherry, divided
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce, divided
- 2 tsp. cornstarch, divided
- ¾ cup chicken broth, divided
- 2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
- 1½ tsp. toasted sesame oil, divided
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
- 1½ tsp. grated fresh ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, divided
- Prepare white rice as per package directions.
- Cut beef into 4 equal wedges. Transfer to plate and freeze until very firm, 20 to 25 minutes. While beef freezes, prepare gai lan. Remove leaves, small stems, and florets from stalks; slice leaves crosswise into 1½-inch strips (any florets and stems can go into pile with leaves); and cut stalks on bias into ¼-inch-thick pieces. Set aside.
- When beef is firm, stand 1 piece on its side and slice against grain ¼ inch thick. Repeat with remaining pieces. Transfer to bowl. Add 1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon cornstarch and toss until beef is evenly coated. Set aside.
- In second bowl, whisk together ½ cup broth, oyster sauce, ½ teaspoon sesame oil, remaining 4 teaspoons Shaoxing wine, remaining 2 teaspoons soy sauce, and remaining 1 teaspoon cornstarch; set aside.
- In third bowl, combine 4 teaspoons vegetable oil, ginger, and ¼ teaspoon garlic.
- Heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in wok over high heat until just smoking. Add stalks and cook, stirring slowly but constantly, until spotty brown and crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to bowl.
- Add remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil, remaining 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, and remaining ½ teaspoon garlic to wok and cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add leaves and cook, stirring frequently, until vibrant green, about 1 minute. Add remaining ¼ cup broth and cook, stirring constantly, until broth evaporates, 2 to 3 minutes. Spread evenly on serving dish.
- Add ginger-garlic mixture to wok and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add beef and cook, stirring slowly but constantly, until no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Return stalks to wok and add oyster sauce mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens, 30 to 60 seconds. Place mixture on top of leaves. Serve.
Recipe by Lan Lam for Cook’s Illustrated