One of the dishes that I really like when going out to a Chinese buffet is beef and broccoli. Actually, the broccoli is my favorite part of the dish.
The brown sauce that the beef and broccoli comes in is the key. The secret to making the broccoli to be tender-crisp and taste like broccoli, not like cornstarchy brown goop, is to cook the vegetable separately and to use a minimal amount of cornstarch â€“ but only in the steak marinade. You then simmer the sauce to let it thicken naturally.
That’s the advice given by the people at New Asian Cuisine (www.newasiancuisine.com) in an e-mail about the top Asian recipes of 2010. They also say the secret ingredient to the absolute best Broccoli Beef is Chinese black vinegar, which adds a mellow, sweet tang. If you don’t have Chinese black vinegar, substitute it with a good, dark balsamic vinegar.
Here’s their recipe for the broccoli beef, which looks pretty scrumptious.
Chinese Broccoli Beef
1 pound top sirloin or flank steak, sliced into 1/8-inch thin strips
FOR THE MARINADE:
1Â½ teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Â½ teaspoon cooking oil
FOR THE STIR-FRY SAUCE:
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
2 teaspoons black vinegar
FOR THE BROCCOLI:
1Â½ pounds broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
Â½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Marinate the beef in soy sauce, cornstarch and the Â½ teaspoon of oil for 10 minutes at room temperature.
In a small bowl, mix together the stir-fry sauce ingredients.
In a wok or large frying pan, add 1 inch of water and salt and bring to a boil. Add the broccoli and cover to steam for 3 minutes. Broccoli should be bright green, crisp tender and you should be able to pierce the stem with a fork. Drain.
Discard the water in the pan and dry the pan well. Heat the pan over high heat and when hot, add the 1 tablespoon of cooking oil and swirl to coat. Add the garlic and fry for 15 to 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the steak strips, keeping them in one layer and fry 30 seconds. Flip the strips and fry the other side.
Pour in the stir-fry sauce and stir to combine. Simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat a back of a spoon, about 30 seconds. Add the cooked broccoli back into the pan and toss to coat well.
Note: To keep this dish vegetarian, replace the beef with fresh, thick, meaty shitake mushrooms (cut in half) or even portobello (cut in Â½-inch slices).