Szechwan Crispy Beef

In this celebrated Szechwan recipe slender slices of beef are stir-fried for a few minutes, and then stir fried with spicy seasonings. I’ve added carrots and celery cut into matchsticks. At Wilton Lodge for some of the Hanson’s dinner parties we always used to serve a Chinese night once every 2 months or so and this dish always went down a treat (Not for Lord & lady H though)

Serves: 8 as part of a whole dinner celebration
Time: With time and patience, the mulberry leaf becomes satin. With time and patience, the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown.

You Will Need

1 pound, beef (flank or sirloin steak is good)
2 medium, carrots
1 tablespoon, minced ginger
2 scallions (spring onions, green onions), white parts only
1 tablespoon black sauce (or substitute hoisin sauce)
3 teaspoons chili paste or chili sauce
8 tablespoons peanut (Groundnut) oil
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Shao hsing wine *
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon roasted Szechwan peppercorns**


Cut the beef across the grain into thin slices less than ¼ inch thick and 2½ to 3 inches long. Wash, peel and julienne the carrots and celery into thin strips about 1/8 of an inch thick and 21/2 to 3 inches long. Mince the ginger and cut the scallion into lengths about 2 ½ inches long, and then into thin shreds.
In a small bowl, combine the black bean sauce and chile paste set to one side, Preheat the wok on a medium high heat for at about 30 seconds. (The wok is ready when you can feel the heat when holding the palm of your hand 2 to 3 inches above the wok’s surface).
Add 1 ½ tablespoons of oil to the pre-heated wok, drizzling down the sides. When the oil is hot, add the carrots and celery, stir fry for a couple of minutes, stirring in the salt, do not brown the veg, remove from the wok.
Heat 6 tablespoons of oil in the wok over a medium to high heat, when the oil is hot, add the beef and stir fry for about 10 minutes, until the beef is crispy and dark brown and chewy (you will hear the beef sizzle as it dries out). Splash the beef with the rice wine or dry sherry during the later stages of cooking.
Push the beef up to the sides and drain all but 2 tablespoons from the wok, add the bean sauce and chili paste or sauce mixture. Stir-fry for a few seconds, and then add the ginger and scallions. Stir-fry for a few seconds, until aromatic, then return the carrots and celery to the wok, stir in the sugar and the roasted Szechwan peppercorn, taste and adjust the seasonings if desired.

* Usually, you shouldn’t cook with any wine you wouldn’t drink, and you should never ever buy cooking wine in the supermarket. And yet, here I am, telling you to do just that, to buy Chinese shao hsing (or shao xing) wine, for the reason that without it you will certainly not be able to recreate genuine Chinese dishes.
What I buy from my Chinese supermarket is not the sort of shao hsing wine that is matured and mellow but at less than 2 quid a bottle what would you expect, nevertheless it is perfect for cooking and adding a touch of authentic flavour. You can substitute dry sherry in equal amounts for shao hsing wine, but it’s not quite the same. Shao hsing keeps forever in the pantry, stored at room temperature.

** How to Roast Szechwan Peppercorns
This simple technique for roasting Sichuan peppercorns will add an interesting flavour to your meals.
Time: 10 to 15 minutes
Place Szechwan peppercorns in a frying pan on medium-low heat.
Heat peppercorns, shaking pan occasionally, until they begin to darken and become fragrant.
Remove from pan and cool.
When cooled, grind peppercorns with a mortar and pestle, or crush with a rolling pin.
Use as called for in a recipe, or store in a covered jar until needed.

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