Monday, December 1, 2008

Beef in oyster sauce

This is inspired by a recipe in Ching-He Huang's Chinese Food Made Easy. The ingredients are basically the same, but I changed the method and created a sauce. I'm not 100% convinced by woks - even a good-sized one can only handle smallish quantities of food, and they tend to sweat the meat if you use too much of it. So I used my ridged griddle pan instead, and the results were really good. I think this is how I will be making Chinese food from now on.

12 oz of thin cut steak

for the marinade
1 teaspoon of light soy sauce
1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
pinch of sugar
1 teaspoon of minced ginger
1 teaspoon of minced garlic

for the sauce
120 ml chicken stock
60 ml white wine
1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
2 teaspoons of dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons of cornflour (diluted in 2 teaspoons of water)
groundnut oil

  1. Flatten the steaks out with a meat tenderiser or rolling pin until they are about one-and-a-half times their original size (and correspondingly thinner), then cut them into inch-wide strips.
  2. Combine the marinade ingredients, add to the meat and mix thoroughly so that the meat is evenly covered. Set aside for 30 minutes.
  3. Oil the griddle with peanut oil (or any light vegetable oil), and heat until hot. Place the strips on the griddle, grill quickly, turn and cook on the othe side, then remove to a large, heated serving plate. (It will depend on how thin your meat is and how hot the griddle, but the meat should probably need no more than 30 seconds on each side.)
  4. Pour the stock and wine into the hot griddle pan, bring to a boil to evaporate the alcohol, add the oyster sauce, the dark soy sauce and the diluted cornflour, stir and heat for a few seconds to allow the sauce to thicken a little, then pour over the grilled meat.

Soy sauce: dark vs. light
Another thing I like about Ching-He Huang's book is that it's one of those cookery books that help you get beyond just following recipes and gives you the tools to then improvise your own dishes. I have to admit that although I've been cooking Chinese food on and off for years, I had never bothered to find out the difference between dark and light soy sauce. Well, the dark sauce is aged for longer and is therefore darker and less salty than the light one. I guess the nearest equivalent in western cuisine is balsamic versus ordinary wine vinegar.

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