Friday, January 24, 2014

Beef and Onion Stir Fry

Here's a stir fry that proves that you don't have to use Asian flavors to make a stir fry. Stir fry is a technique. Though usually associated with Chinese cuisine, who says it always has to include garlic-ginger-soy sauce in the ingredient list?

I didn't feel like Asian but I had thinly sliced beef and leeks. Huh, that sounds kind of French. OK, let's see how this turns out. Not bad!

I used eye of round that was sliced in the supermarket. Eye of round is It's not really expensive nor really cheap. The recipe only uses half a pound, so the total price stays moderate. But, you get some good beefy flavor. I added shelled soybeans (now available in the frozen food case in many supermarkets) to make up for the small portion of beef. You can use frozen green peas, which are definitely more French than soybeans. Also not French is the thickener. I use a cornstarch slurry.

Leeks can hide a lot of sand in their layers. The best way to clean them is to cut off the root end, cut off the long dark green leaves, then slice them lengthwise, and put them in a bowl of cold water. After a few minutes of soaking, swish them around a bit and rub out any dirt hiding between the layers. Then you are ready to slice them.

Beef and Onion Stir Fry
(serves 4, costs $5.50)

2 medium leeks, white and light green parts, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ cups shelled soybeans, thawed if frozen
½ pound eye of round, sliced thinly and cut into 1" wide strips
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons cornstarch for sprinkling on beef
2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tablespoon cold water
½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed
1 cup low sodium beef broth
minced chives or minced parsley, for garnish

Heat up 1 Tablespoon of oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add leeks and onions. Stir-fry until onions are soft and brown on the edges. Stir often to keep them from burning. Add soybeans and cook for another minute. Season with salt and pepper and remove to a bowl. Sprinkle beef with salt, pepper, and 2 teaspoons cornstarch. Wipe out the wok, and add remaining oil. Heat until smoking hot. Add beef and stir fry until browned, only takes a couple of minutes. Remove beef, leaving behind the oil, to bowl with onions. Pour off most of the oil from the wok. Return the wok to medium-high heat. Add beef broth and crushed thyme. Stir to loosen any bits sticking to the bottom of the wok. Add back onions, soybeans, and beef. Stir in cornstarch/water slurry and cook until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper - if using regular beef broth, taste it first. You may not need any salt. Serve with rice or noodles and garnish with fresh chives or parsley, if desired.

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