I recently returned from a 3-day, mini vacation and while I was away, my thoughts turned to all of things in my refrigerator that would need to be used when I returned home. I wasn’t preoccupied with those thoughts but, being the frugal person that I am, I imagined what I could do with the food that would likely be on the verge of spoiling when I returned.
Sure enough, upon my return, I opened the refrigerator to inspect the various vegetables and other odds and ends. As I expected, the bell peppers were on their last legs. The celery and green onions were going limp. The red onion was holding on strong and the carrots were just fine, so no worries there. And then, I remembered the unopened package of beef that I had left in the meat drawer. I knew that it had been in the refrigerator for several days. The solution was obvious. A beef stir fry was the perfect remedy.
This was a meal made out of necessity and practicality but each of the components combined quite nicely and the quick stir fry allowed some items, that were past their prime, a chance to shine.
Ingredients for the stir fry:
3 cloves of garlic
2 Tbs thinly sliced ginger
2 Tbs canola oil
1 pound, thinly sliced beef
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 medium sized red onion
2 celery stalks
3 cups uncooked white rice
Ingredients for the marinade:
3 Tbs dark soy sauce
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs sambal (chili garlic sauce)
Ingredients for the sauce:
½ tsp sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbs brown sugar
2 Tbs Hoisin sauce
1 Tbs honey
2 Tbs white vinegar
1 tsp hot sauce (your choice)
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs cornstarch
1 Tbs water
Remove some of the starch from the rice by rinsing and scrubbing the rice by hand in a colander. Put the rice in a large pot and cover with water. Allow the rice to soak for 30 minutes.
While the rice is soaking, marinate the beef and prepare a mise en place.
The beef that I used was a packaged roast that had already been thinly sliced. It was marketed to be used for carne asada but, since it was not seasoned, it was suitable for my purpose.
Slice the beef into ribbons and allow it to marinate for about 30 minutes.
Peel, slice and chop the vegetables as you like. Reserve some chopped scallion tips for the garnish.
Preparing this mise en place took about 45 minutes. I wasn’t rushed because I knew that the rice would take about an hour, from start to finish.
Cook the rice according to the directions on the package. In this case, as I mentioned earlier, I soaked the rice for 30 minutes and then I cooked and steamed the rice for 20 minutes. I allowed the rice to steam for 10 additional minutes before fluffing with a fork.
I made the stir fry, while the rice finished steaming.
Add the cooking oil to a hot wok. Season the wok with ginger and garlic for one minute and then remove the ginger and garlic.
Introduce the vegetables, starting with the ones that will take the longest to cook. In this case, I started with the carrots, followed by the bell peppers, red onion, celery and scallions. Remove the vegetables to a bowl when they have softened but before they go limp.
Add a splash of oil to the wok and stir fry the beef. The beef will cook within a matter of a few minutes. Remove the beef to the bowl containing the cooked vegetables.
Add the sauce to the wok and stir until thickened. Add the beef and vegetables back to the wok and stir to incorporate the sauce. Turn out the stir fry to a serving dish and top with scallions.