Monday, April 19, 2010

Beef With Broccoli, with a twist

I love beef with broccoli. I really enjoy Asian food because you feel like you are eating healthy food: it has so many vegetables, and you can stir fry things in minimal oil. As a general rule, though, I don't enjoy Chinese restaurants. Too many of them use poor-quality meat and I end up chewing on a piece of gristle. Yuck. So, we are limited to PF Changs and an upscale Chinese restaurant a few cities away.

People will tell me that they know of a great Chinese restaurant that has excellent quality food. And inevitably, when I believe them, the first bite I take has a big, chewy piece of gristle. I must just have terrible luck; Jeff has never had this problem. But I always do, and when my mouth feels that gristle, my body involuntarily shudders in disgust. I find it both disappointing and offensive. I would never serve meat like that at my table, and when I pay to eat out, I expect to be fed something better than what I could make at home. Maybe my expectations are too high. But I'm not sorry if they are; I like eating good food, and if that means I have to make it, so be it.

Anyway, that is neither here nor there. I enjoy beef with broccoli, despite all the poor experiences I have ever had. And I would love to recreate it at home. I tried a recipe a while back that promised to be just like your favorite take out. Unfortunately, I don't know if it was just because I knew it was there and I couldn't get my mind past it, or if I used a low-quality ingredient, but the fish sauce the recipe called for overwhelmed the recipe. I know many call for oyster sauce, but I don't know if I could get over the fish sauce experience. I'm not sure why I haven't thrown out that bottle, which continues to sit in my refrigerator; I know I'll never use it because the after-taste was way too much for me.

So, when I saw this recipe, for a pumped up version of beef with broccoli, and it did not have fish or oyster sauce in it, I leapt for joy!
I set about making sure I had everything it called for so I could make it. A lot of times, when I see recipes I want to try, I squirrel them away and try them (maybe) months later if I haven't forgotten about them. Not so with this. It moved straight to the top of the pile, and it was well worth it. All the flavors work really well together, and even though this is by no means a traditional beef with broccoli, it was delicious just the same and I will definitely be making it again. Also, I increased the recipe a bit because we were eating with our neighbors, who have four kids. The kids sure didn't like it (despite all our proddings, "try the steak, it tastes like orange juice!") but the four of us adults had no trouble finishing it off. What I really enjoyed about this recipe was that it had a good, strong orange flavor (admittedly not part of traditional beef with broccoli) and yet it was not sweet, which may have been why the kids didn't like it. The sauce, in my opinion, was extremely well-balanced.

Beef With Broccoli, With a Twist
Adapted from Culinary Covers, who made it from Clean Eating
Printable Recipe

1 1/2 pound lean sirloin steak, sliced into thin strips
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
3 cups broccoli pieces, cut into bite-sized pieces (use both florets and peeled stalk)
1 red bell pepper, julienned
5 tablespoons soy sauce
juice from 1 medium orange
zest from 1 medium orange
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon cornstarch
salt and pepper, to taste
rice, for serving (about 1/2 cup prepared per person)

heat a large non-stick pan over high heat, then reduce to medium high and spray with cooking spray and add beef. Salt and pepper the beef. Stir fry for about 5 minutes, until it's cooked through. Remove to a plate.

To the same pan, without wiping clean, add the vegetables and stir fry until tender-crisp. The vegetables should retain their bright colors. I added about 2 tablespoons of water to help steam the broccoli. Add water at your discretion. Meanwhile, combine the soy sauce, orange juice, zest, garlic, honey, and cornstarch. Whisk together.

When the vegetables are done, return the meat to the pan and add the sauce. Stir to combine, and when the meat is reheated and sauce is thick, remove from the heat (about 3 minutes). Serve with rice.

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