Saturday, March 24, 2007

Tonight's Dinner: "Beef" With Broccoli

So, about the lack of pictures recently: a bunny appears to have surreptitiously nibbled on the cord to the charger for our digital camera, so bear with me while I try to fix it (or give up and replace it).

On to dinner. I was so stoked on those "chicken" filets from the other day that I figured I'd give their beef strips a try. I was a bit disappointed -- they were exactly the same as the meatless strips that the other grocery store carries, and they're only okay. The texture is great, but they still have a bit of that characteristic, sort of plastic-y taste. But, they're just fine for the kinds of recipes that are usually made with cheaper cuts of meat (since those recipes are less focused on the meat anyway). Hence tonight's dinner: takeout style beef with broccoli.

I modified a recipe I found elsewhere on the internet, but can't find for the life of me now -- if I find it, I'll come back and link to it. I'll also note that the conspicuous absence of soy sauce is due to the fact that I somehow forgot to purchase it this week, and not by design.

Anyhow, the recipe. All measurements are, as usual, very approximate:

• 1 package imitation beef strips
• 1 tbsp black bean garlic sauce (I used Lee Kum Kee, you can get it at most grocery stores)
• 1 tbsp corn starch
• 1 c water
• 3 crimini, oyster or shiitake mushrooms, coarsely chopped
• 1/2 c water
• onion powder
• garlic powder
• salt or soy sauce
• 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
• 2 tbsp vegetable oil
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 3 large garlic clove sized pieces fresh ginger, peeled
• 1 tbsp rice wine or rice vinegar (you can skip this if you don't have any on hand)
• steamed rice (I used jasmine)

First, make a marinade for the veggie beef strips. In a small bowl, stir together the black bean paste and water. In a small dish, add a bit of water to the corn starch and stir well to make a milky slurry; add to the black bean paste mixture and stir. Add the veggie beef strips and set aside for fifteen minutes or so.

Next, make a mushroom broth: in a small bowl combine the mushrooms, 1/2 c water, a dash each of garlic and onion powder and a shake or two of soy sauce (or, if you're me, a quarter teaspoon of salt). Stir; microwave for two or three minutes, stir again, and set aside.

Chop the broccoli if you haven't already and get your rice steaming. Heat a wok or large frying pan and add the oil. Add the beef strips, reserving the marinade, and stir-fry until browned. Take out the beef strips and set aside.

Now, put the broccoli in the wok with about 1/4 c water and stir-fry until crisp-tender. Add the beef strips and stir to combine. Make a little well in the middle and add the marinade, garlic, ginger (I just pressed this in a garlic press right over the wok), rice wine, and mushroom broth with mushrooms. Stir fry for a minute or two and taste; you may want to add some soy sauce at this point. Also, if the sauce is too thin make a little more corn starch slurry and add that while stirring. Once you're done making adjustments, remove from heat and serve over rice.

This was surprisingly good, given the fact that I wasn't too high on the beef strips initially. The nice thing about making takeout style food at home is that you can control how much oil goes into it; this was not greasy at all. Next time I'll probably use more ginger, but I'm kind of a ginger fiend. Oh, and soy sauce. I'll remember to buy soy sauce.

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