Chinese-American Cuisine: Broccoli Beef Stir-fry

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The very first time I ever had beef broccoli was from a Chinese take-out place in Columbia, Missouri. The food was good, but the name of the place was the greatest name for a Chinese take out place ever: Wok In Wok Out.

I really like stir-fried Chinese influenced cuisine. However, too often Americanized stir-fry dishes end up with a lot of really gloppy sauce that overpowers the main ingredients of the dish. This dish avoids that.

This recipe calls for toasted sesame oil. Toasted sesame oil is sesame oil pressed from toasted sesame seeds. It will be darker in color and has a nuttier flavor. It is sometimes called Oriental or Asian sesame oil.

Another nice thing about this flavorful, delicious dish is that it can come together in about forty-five minutes.

Here is what I did:

Ingredients

For the beef
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ pound boneless sirloin, cut in 1/4″ thick slices* (See Note)

For the sauce
2 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoon medium-dry Sherry or dry Marsala
½ cup beef broth
2 teaspoon sugar
4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

For the vegetables
5 tablespoons vegetable oil (3 tablespoons are used for cooking the beef)
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger root** (See Note)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons dried hot red pepper flakes
1 medium white onion sliced vertically
1 pound broccoli fresh florets*** (See Note)

Directions

Prepare the beef:
In a small bowl stir together the soy sauce, the sugar, and the salt, add the beef, mix well to coat beef and let it marinate for at least 20 minutes.

Prep the sauce while the beef is marinating:
In a sealable container combine the cornstarch, soy sauce, Sherry, broth, sugar, and sesame oil. Seal and shake well until cornstarch is completely dissolved.

Bringing it all together:
Heat a wok or large, heavy skillet over high heat until it is hot. Add 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil and heat it until it just begins to smoke. Stir-fry the beef in the oil until it is no longer pink. Be careful as the oil will more than likely splatter when the beef hits the pan. You may need to do this in a batch or two depending on the size of your wok or skillet. Transfer the cooked beef to a plate and set aside.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoon vegetable oil to the wok or skillet and heat it until it is hot but not smoking, Add the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes and stir-fry for 30 seconds, or until the mixture is fragrant. Add the onions and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add broccoli and stir-fry an additional minute or until it is crisp-tender and bright green. Add the beef and any juices that have accumulated on the plate to the onion and broccoli. Shake the sauce again if it has separated and add it to the pan with the beef, broccoli, and onion. Cook the mixture, constantly stirring, for 2 minutes or until the sauce is thickened and the beef is heated through and everything is well coated. Remove from heat and cover for 2 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a serving platter or shallow bowl and serve it with steamed rice.

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Notes:
*You will want to thinly slice your beef. I suggest placing your beef in the freezer for about 20 or 30 minutes prior to slicing. This will firm up the muscle making it easier to get a thin, even slice.
**Fresh ginger is something I like to always have on hand. The problem is that it is hard to keep. I have found that ginger freezes very well and keeps for a very long time. When I need fresh ginger in a recipe, I simply remove from the freezer and then grate the ginger while frozen. The size of grater I use varies depending on size of mince I need. I used the smaller shredding side of my grater for this recipe.
***I placed my broccoli florets in a microwavable bowl, covered and microwaved on high for one minute. I kept the broccoli covered until I was ready to use it. This helped the broccoli become a little more tender yet retain some crispness.

Chicken, Broccoli, Rice and Cheese Soup

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I love a good challenge. There is a lunch spot called The Prairie Soup Company a co-worker and I frequent that makes some of the best soups and some really amazing sandwiches. The chicken salad is fantastic. It actually reminds me of my mom’s.

One of their specialty soups is a chicken, broccoli, rice, and cheese soup. It is my favorite soup, but the problem is they make it very infrequently and we never know when. That is why at some point every morning either my co-worker or I will call them and ask what the Chef’s Choice soup is.

My co-worker challenged me to duplicate the soup. I am on vacation this week so I have some extra time to try. I think I nailed it. I would love to be able to taste what I came up with and what they make side-by-side. This soup is every bit as good as theirs.
Here is what I did:

Ingredients

4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and shredded
1 (6 ounce) package quick cooking long grain and wild rice with seasoning packet (such as Uncle Ben’s)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup butter
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups broccoli flowerettes
8 oz sharp Cheddar finely shredded

Directions

Combine broth, water and chicken in a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Bring to boiling and then stir in rice. Do not add the seasoning packet at this time. Cover and remove from heat.

Combine salt, pepper, and flour in a small bowl and set aside. Melt butter in a medium sized sauce pan and stir in contents of seasoning packet. Heat until butter begins to simmer. Reduce heat to low and then stir in flour mixture creating a roux. Slowly whisk in cream until fully incorporated and smooth. Cook about 3 to 5 minutes or until sauce thickens.

Return chicken, rice, and broth to heat and stir in roux. Add broccoli. Heat to a simmer and then whisk in the shredded cheese. Cook over medium heat about ten to fifteen minutes until heated through.

Portabello, Broccoli, and Red-Pepper Melts

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Susan and I like to have at least one day a week when we do not eat meat so I am always trying new ideas and recipes in that regard. Tonight’s meatless meal was very delicious and extremely satisfying. Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

1 head broccoli florets (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and ground pepper
4 portabello mushrooms sliced about ½ inch thick (stems removed)
2 red bell peppers seeds removed and sliced into strips
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 cloves garlic crushed and then minced
4 thick slices sourdough bread sliced about 1″ thick
4 ounces Gouda cheese, shredded

Directions

Spread broccoli out on 9 x 17 jelly roll baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil, tossing occasionally, until broccoli begins to char, about 6 minutes.

 

 

Add mushrooms and bell peppers to sheet, and toss again to mix vegetables. Return to broiler and broil, once again tossing occasionally, until vegetables are tender; about 10 minutes more. Remove from broiler and set aside.

 

 

While vegetables are broiling, combine mayonnaise and garlic in a glass bowl. You may want to season with salt and pepper. Place bread on another baking sheet and divide mayonnaise garlic spread between the bread slices and spread evenly. Top with vegetables, then cheese. Broil until cheese is melted and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.