Growing up, my dad regularly made stir-fry using bags of frozen stir-fry vegetables, whatever meat seemed like a good idea, and little else. As a result, I never really liked stir-fry. After moving out on my own, I attempted my own stir-fries, with fresh vegetables and complicated concoctions of soy sauce and citrus juice and sesame seeds and whatever else seemed like a good idea. I still did not like stir-fry.
It turns out I actually never really knew what I was doing.
Recently, I have returned to stir-fry thanks to The Supper of the Lamb, by Robert Farrar Capon (which I reviewed here). Capon explains that the joy of the stir-fry is in simplicity and speed. A hot skillet or wok, just a few vegetables, a little meat and a little sauce is all that’s needed.
It turns out I actually do like stir-fry, as long as I don’t mess it up.
Since reading Capon’s book, I have made stir-fry a regular part of our family diet. This is the best one I’ve made. The secret is in the sauce. Recipe follows.
1 lb. beef, cut into bite-size pieces
2 large crowns of broccoli
1 lb. shiitake mushrooms
1 large onion
8-10 cloves of garlic
1 medium size piece of ginger root
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup honey
2 tbsp. hoisin sauce
For sauce: Dice garlic. Peel ginger, and slice it thin and small. (Alternatively, grate it.) Sauté garlic and ginger in olive oil until fragrant; add soy sauce, honey and hoisin sauce. Simmer for five minutes or so. Set aside.
Chop broccoli and mushrooms into bite size pieces. Slice onion into thin slices. Set to the side.
Heat large cast iron skillet or wok over high heat until it smokes slightly. Add some cooking oil, then quickly add in the beef. Cook until all pieces are brown; drain and set aside.
Return the skillet/wok to the heat and bring it to smoking again. Add more cooking oil, then the vegetables. Cook, stirring regularly, until onions become translucent. Add cooked beef back to the skillet/wok, pour in sauce, and mix thoroughly, until sauce starts to bubble. Turn off heat and serve over brown rice.
Isn’t that a lot of garlic?
Yes. That’s the point. The sauce is the only flavoring this dish will get; make it strong. Lots of garlic, lots of ginger. Taste the sauce before using it; add more honey or soy sauce to suit your tastes.
Can the sauce be made ahead of time?
Of course. I don’t see a reason it couldn’t sit in the fridge a few days.
What cut of beef?
Whatever cut of beef you would typically get for stewing or fajitas is what I recommend. You could get a roast and cut it up yourself, though often grocery stores have pre-cut beef available.
Can frozen broccoli be used?
Sure. Get pre-cut, frozen broccoli florets; you don’t even have to thaw them before you cook them, though that will prolong the cooking (but not by much).
Is this healthy?