*Frozen* Stir Fry

I recently made a beef and vegetable stir fry.  When I say recently, I really mean two months ago.

I realized that I had way more beef than I needed for the dish, so I put the marinated beef in a freezer bag, along with the marinade, and tossed it in the freezer for later use. 

Fast forward two months.

 I had a big frozen block of marinated meat.  Now what?

Well, a sensible cook would have thawed the beef in the refrigerator for a day.  But, I was not in a sensible mood.  I was hungry and I wanted to make dinner RIGHT NOW.  My solution was undoubtedly unconventional but I promise, the end result was delicious.

Note:  I used Canola oil throughout the entire stir-fry process until the very end.  I used sesame oil to prepare the leafy celery tops and green onions, which topped the dish.  The intermittent and distinct flavor of sesame oil gave the dish an element of surprise. 

Ingredients:

1 lb frozen, marinated beef strips

2 Tbs cooking oil (I used canola oil)

2 Tbs fresh sliced ginger

1 onion, julienne sliced

2 medium sized carrots

2 celery stalks (with leafy green tops)

1 quarter head of cabbage

1 tsp sesame oil

2 green onions

2 jalapeños

Spicy sauces: Vietnamese chili garlic sauce and Ed’s Widow Maker (local wicked, habanero sauce)

Cooked white rice, enough for to serve four.

Directions:

Prepare steamed white rice.  Keep warm.

Prepare vegetables.  Chop and slice.  Set aside.

Box-cut jalapenos to remove seeds and membranes.
Frozen solid! OMG…what now?

Heat a wok to low heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of cooking oil.  Add the frozen beef.  Stir to coat and cover. 

Turn every few minutes and remove portions of beef as they warm and separate from the frozen glob of meat.  Set the thawed pieces of meat aside on a plate.

Continue to heat the beef until all of it is thawed.  This took about 10 minutes at low heat, covered.  Remove and set aside.

Add one tablespoon cooking oil to wok and crank up the heat.

Add sliced ginger and stir for 30 seconds.

Add the vegetables and stir fry until the vegetables become tender, but not overcooked.

Add the beef and stir over high heat.  Turn the heat off and prepare the serving dish.

Add cooked white rice to a large serving bowl.  Create a well in the center, for the stir fry.

Add the stir-fried beef and vegetables to the bowl.

Return the wok to the stove and set heat to high.  Add 1 teaspoon sesame oil.  Add the celery tops and green onion.  Stir fry for about one minute and transfer to the top of the serving bowl.

Serve with additional hot sauces and fresh jalapeño for the adventuresome…no need to punish everyone, I suppose.

Chinese Stir Fry (or, How to Clean the Refrigerator)

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

2 carrots

1 green bell pepper

1 red bell pepper

1 medium sized red onion

2 celery stalks

3 scallions

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

Directions:

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.