From Geoff Last (adapted from a Sam Sifton recipe from NYT Cooks)
There are some elements of the classic ginger beef (more of a Canadian specialty than Chinese) in this recipe, but this tastes much fresher and lighter. Using rib-eye pushes up the cost, but you can use a cheaper cut – it just won’t be quite as tender. I use a large non-stick skillet for this (not Teflon coated) as you can get it quite hot and the food won’t stick, which is important to get the beef pieces on the crispy side. Kids love this dish. Serve it over rice with some green veggies on the side.
For the sauce:
- 1 T. neutral oil such as grapeseed
- 1-1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
- 2 T. orange zest, plus the juice of one orange
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
- 1/4 c. light brown sugar
- 1/2 c. each rice vinegar (not seasoned rice vinegar) and soy sauce
- 1 T. fish sauce
For the beef:
- 1 large egg white
- 1 T. cornstarch
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 boneless rib-eye steak, approximately 1 to 1-1/2 pounds, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/4 c. neutral oil, such as grapeseed
- 6 scallions, white and green parts, cut into inch-long pieces and separated
- 2 dried red chiles, or to taste
To make the sauce, heat the oil in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat. When it begins to shimmer, add the ginger, jalapeño and orange zest and stir to combine. Sauté the mixture until the ingredients soften, approximately 2 to 3 minutes, then add the garlic and continue cooking until it softens, approximately 1 to 2 minutes longer.
Add the orange juice, brown sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce and fish sauce to the pan and stir to combine. Allow the mixture to come to a boil, then lower the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until it thickens and reduces by half, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the meat: combine the egg white, cornstarch and salt in a bowl. Add the steak, tossing to coat the meat with the batter.
In a large skillet or wok set over high heat, heat the oil until it shimmers and is about to smoke. Add the beef to the pan or wok in a single layer and cook without stirring until the bottoms of the pieces are crisp and golden, approximately 60 to 90 seconds. Add the white pieces of scallion and chiles to the pan, then turn the beef pieces over and cook the other sides, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes more for medium-rare. Transfer to a platter, then pour the orange sauce into the hot pan or wok, let it boil and stir it as it thickens. Add the meat and stir to coat with the sauce. Return the meat and sauce to the platter and scatter the green scallions over the top. Serves 4.
Pair this dish with:
Wine: There are some spices to contend with in this dish, most notably chiles and ginger, along with soy which adds a salty component. The key here is to find a red wine with some spice of its own but with soft tannins as salt tends to makes tannins taste even stronger and bitter. Zinfandel, syrah and gamay are all good options.
The Seven Deadly Zins Zinfandel (from the Michael David Winery) 2013, $28
Finding value from California this year is going to be tough, but decent zinfandels can still be found for under $30. This one, produced from old vines from the Lodi appellation, is classic in style with lots of spice and crushed blackberry fruit with bright acidity, a nice match with the orange beef.