Monday, 31 December 2007

Stir-fry beef with vegetables (Κινέζικο μοσχάρι με λαχανικά)

It's been quite cold in Hania (we're not used to anything under 10 degrees Celsius here), and since the children aren't at school, I can't be bothered leaving the house to go to shopping for supplies. I have been content to use up ingredients in our fridge, freezer and pantry. Today, I don't know what my food will taste like, because I have never made it before, and I am not using a recipe. I did look at some recipes for stir-fry beef over the web, but I don't believe they would work for Greek beef. You will probably agree with me.

Take Delia's recipe: "... 1 tablespoon of oil, let it sizzle [in the pan], then add the meat and toss it and stir-fry it in the hot oil for about 2 minutes. Then remove the meat to a plate." Two minutes cooking time for the beef? Greek beef is never tender enough to be cooked so little; try eating beef cooked for two minutes, even if it is cut into thin strips. It's be like eating a rubber band that eventually snaps back into your face when pulled.

I liked the sound of the sizzling beef recipe on the bbc some shaoxing wine, char sui sauce, peanut oil, caster sugar, mushroom soy sauce, sesame oil, fresh ginger, kecap manis, and Sichuan pepper; we have no Asian food supply stores in Hania, and the variety of Asian ingredients available here is limited to the BLUE DRAGON range (an utterly tasteless substitute for the genuine product, I'm sorry to say). I had bought some sesame oil a while ago just to try it out, but unfortunately it doesn't agree with our palate, so it is lurking somewhere in the back of my pantry. We can get fresh ginger (thanks to the increased demand for the product, due mainly to the influx of Asian immigrants into Greece), but I'd have to drag myself out of the house to buy some. Shopping with children in the supermarket over the Christmas holidays means I will end up buying more Christmas decorations and cheap toys and junk food than I ever thought I needed.

You need
half a kilo of beef, sliced into short thin strips
half a wineglass of soy sauce
a few tablespoons of sesame oil
a wineglass of white wine
2 medium onion, minced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
Marinate the beef in the oil, soy sauce and wine overnight.

The next day, saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil till soft and translucent. Then add the beef with a little of the marinade (discard the rest). Mix the ingredients well, and stir them around until they are all well coated with the olive oil. Then add:
  • 2 large carrots, sliced into thin rounds
  • 2 medium onions, sliced thinly
  • 2 large green peppers, sliced into short thin strips
  • a can of sliced mushrooms, drained
  • freshly ground pepper and salt
Stir everything to mix all the ingredients in well. Let the beef cook until it is done; Greek beef needs at least half an hour when cut in slivers. The other vegetables will have become quite soft by this stage, so plan to add them after 20 minutes cooking time if you prefer a crunchy stir-fry. When you add the vegetables, you could also add:
  • any other small-cut vegetables that you like
  • chili (in any form), or any other spice that you prefer
Before serving the meal, I added 10 drops of tabasco sauce. I prefer it to chili powder and dried chilis. It gives it a more authentic foreign taste. If there will be eaters who are not in favour of very spicy or hot food, you can place this sauce on the table and each diner can add it to his individual plate. This dish doesn't need a salad to go with it because it contains a lot of vegetables. Serve it over a plate of hot noodles, steamed rice or pilafi rice (save the boiled chicken meat to make chicken pie) - and don't forget the white wine.

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