I made the Beef-Broccoli Stir-fry from Cooking Light a while ago. I haven’t done a lot of blogging recently, but I enjoyed the recipe so I still wanted to write a little about it.
My first experience with Chinese food was with Beef and Broccoli during my freshman year of college. Some friends and I were having food delivered, and I didn’t know what to order. At the time, I hadn’t experienced a wide range of food (like most of what I make and write about here), and I’m sure that the only non-American food I’d had was Mexican (and the extent of that might have been tacos – we didn’t dine out much when I was young). I asked for a recommendation from a Vietnamese-American friend who was getting (vegetarian) food, and he said that a lot of Americans liked beef and broccoli. I decided to give it a try, and it certainly was a safe bet for someone who was raised on meat and potatoes, who didn’t want anything excessively spicy.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the right choice for me. Even then I should have guessed, but I’m not really a plain, meat-and-potatoes kind of person. I like simple, straightforward flavors, but I also like spicy, and I like complex. I remember the beef and broccoli weighed down with the heavy taste of soy sauce. I was unimpressed. I like soy sauce and it has its uses, but those uses shouldn’t be pouring it over rice to flavor it (I don’t understand how anyone can do that; it’s so salty!) or making it the sole flavor in a dish. The entire thing left me believing that I didn’t like Chinese food, until I made a half soy – half lime juice chicken marinade a year later.
I decided I’d give beef and broccoli another try. This was an easy recipe to make – particularly because I recruited Alex as sous chef. Stir-fries like this are easy to make once you understand the basics of how they’re put together; I’ve had success when I’ve followed the instructions similar to those in this recipe. You make a marinade for your meat, and you make a sauce. Cook the meat, replace it with vegetables, add back the meat and sauce, and you’ve got dinner.
For this specific recipe, you make a simple marinade of soy sauce, white wine (the recipe calls for sherry, and I’ve seen some call for sake, which is rice wine), and sugar for the beef. You let it sit while you make the sauce for the stir-fry, which is more wine, soy sauce, beef broth, cornstarch, hoisin sauce, and Sriracha. I was able to make both of these sauces while Alex cut the beef and the broccoli, so if you have to cut all of your ingredients, it will take you longer.
Cooking: You saute the beef for 3 minutes and remove from pan. Saute ginger and garlic for 30 seconds, and then add broccoli and water. Cook for a few minutes (adding in green onions if you don’t forget them like I do), and add beef and broth mixture. Cook for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. I served this over some Japanese rice I had already cooked and kept in the fridge.
Alex and I both really enjoyed this. The ginger and garlic gave it flavor and kept the dish from seeming heavy, and the Sriracha gave it heat without being too spicy. It had a nice, balanced flavor. If only it had tasted this good 10+ years ago. I’d definitely make this again, and you should give it a try too if you don’t already have a version you like.