Spicy Dry-Fried Beef

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Today’s Wok Wednesdays recipe is Spicy Dry-Fried Beef. It’s a very unique recipe because the meat is unmarinated and stir-fried longer than usual, until the beef flavor is concentrated and the texture of the meat is a little chewy. Most beef stir-fries take about 3 to 4 minutes to cook but the “extra” 4 minutes of stir-frying is well worth it for the unsurpassed flavor. It’s a yin yang Sichuan dish that has a hint of everything: heat, spice, saltiness, and sweetness and crunchiness from the vegetables. On the Wok Wednesdays facebook page the posts have started coming in. One new member had great results substituting the beef with venison. This gorgeous photo comes from Karen Kerr who writes the charming food blog Karen’s Kitchen Stories. And my friend Cristina Potters in Mexico upon seeing Karen’s photo immediately posted she had the ingredients and would be stir-frying this today. Thanks to Wok Wednesdays, a recipe from Sichuan, inspires many great meals around the world. You can find the recipe on the NPR site. Wok on!

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Stir-Fried Watermelon

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I hate wasting food. Like a good Chinese daughter I eat every grain of rice and I never toss leftovers. But when I discovered cooks in China stir-fry watermelon, even I was surprised. In researching “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge” I interviewed home cook Beverly Low to get her famous recipe for stir-fried fuzzy melon with ginger pork. (Here’s a photo of the fuzzy melon) Just as the interview was ending she said in passing that in the summertime, her relatives in China used watermelon rind in place of fuzzy melon. What??!?!? The idea of cooking watermelon rind sounded so bizarre. Low, matter-of-factly explained that she was pretty sure it was because her family didn’t want to waste food. In “The Breath of a Wok” I interviewed Dr. Kam Toa Miu, who told me living in China in the 1950s, there were numerous food shortages and sometimes they were “lucky to eat four ounces of rice each day.” I closed my notebook and decided to try stir-frying watermelon rind.

To do so, I cut off the tough green rind and then sliced the white flesh tinged with a little of the pink fruit into 1/4-inch thick slices and followed the recipe for Beverly’s stir-fried fuzzy melon. I also added slices of fuzzy melon so that I could taste the two melons side by side and to my amazement they were almost identical except the watermelon was much more beautiful tinged with the blush of pink.

This week’s Wok Wednesdays recipe is Beverly’s recipe with the watermelon variation. The watermelon has been exceptionally good this summer. The only problem is that these days watermelon is bred to have the thinnest rind so when you buy the fruit for the stir-fry make sure there’s at least 1/2-inch of rind. It’s a nice feeling after enjoying the fruit to know that you can make a wonderful meal with the rind. And in a world where so many are starving, wasting food makes no sense.

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  • Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge
    ~Winner James Beard Foundation Best International Cookbook Award
    ~Finalist IACP International Cookbook Award
    ~Best Chinese Cuisine Book USA Gourmand World Cookbooks Awards
    ~Awarded IACP Culinary Trust eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters Culinary Journalist Independent Study Scholarship

    “With this extraordinarily inspiring and comprehensive book, Grace Young establishes herself not only as one of the world’s great experts in Chinese cooking but as one of its few genuine masters. Buy it, read it, cook from it-and soon you will be on your way to becoming a stir-frying master yourself.”
    –James Oseland, editor-in-chief of Saveur

    READ MORE ABOUT “STIR FRYING TO THE SKY’S EDGE

    “When it comes to stir-frying, I have a guru, the cookbook author Grace Young. Her new cookbook, “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge,” is the ultimate guide, whether you’re a beginner or a chef.”  Martha Rose Shulman New York Times

    “Stir-frying may have been pedestrianized by generations of vegetarian college students, but this beautiful, comprehensive cookbook restores it to its rightful place among the most elegant cookery techniques. The virtues of stir-frying, Young writes, are many: it makes bounty out of small amounts of meat and oil; it emphasizes healthful vegetables; and most importantly, it creates alchemic flavor out of raw ingredients. Young has a scholarly yet impassioned approach, and she fuses personal anecdotes, meticulously researched history, and stir-fry”“related arcana to illuminate her subject. For the serious home cook, this informative, lyrical tome is an inspiration.”  Publishers Weekly

    Chicago Tribune selects “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge” as one of the Top 10 Cookbooks to keep!

    NPR selects “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge” as a Top Ten Cookbook of 2010
    “If you heed Grace Young, whose previous cookbook taught a lesson to those of us who thought a wok was just another pan. Young’s thorough yet streamlined book zooms in on the minutiae of the correct stir-fry — from how to chop your protein to what to listen and look for in the pan. But her book is broad as well as deep, offering panoramic views of the universe of stir-fry from Singapore to Astoria.”                                                                 T. Susan Chang NPR

    READ MORE

  • Multimedia

    • Grace Young and Leonard Lopate
      In this radio interview Grace discusses the techniques and traditions of stir-frying with veteran NPR host Leonard Lopate.
    • Grace in Chow.com Kitchen
      A video from the brilliant folks at Chow.com that shows the most common stir-fry mistakes.
    • Melissa Block and Grace Young
      Join Grace and All Things Considered host Melissa Block on a visit to New York City’s Chinatown to buy a traditional iron wok and to learn the special vitality of the “breath of a wok.”

More Multimedia…

  • The Breath of a Wok
    Unlocking the Spirit of Wok Cooking Through Recipes and Lore

    IACP Le Cordon Bleu International Cookbook Award

    IACP Jane Grigson Cookbook Award for Distinguished Scholarship

    World Food Media Awards’ Best Food Book

    READ MORE

    The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen:
    Classic Family Recipes for Celebration and Healing

    IACP Le Cordon Bleu International Cookbook Award

    Finalist IACP First Cookbook Award

    Finalist James Beard International Cookbook Award

    READ MORE





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