Milk Street The Secrets of Stir-Fry (Ep 305)

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Vietnamese Shaking Beef (Bò Lúc Lắc)

Start to finish: 30 minutes | Servings: 4

The name of this Vietnamese dish refers to the way cooks shake the pan while the beef cooks. We, however, prefer to minimize the meat’s movement so the pieces achieve a nice dark, flavor-building sear. Sirloin tips (also called flap meat) or tri-tip are excellent cuts for this recipe—both are meaty, tender and reasonably priced (many recipes for shaking beef call for pricier beef tenderloin). If you can find baby watercress, use a 4-ounce container in place of the regular watercress; baby cress has a particularly peppery bite that pairs well with the beef. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Don’t cut the beef into pieces smaller than 1 1/2 inches or they may overcook. And don’t forget the lime wedges for serving. A squeeze of fresh lime juice brightens the other flavors.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 pounds beef sirloin tips or tri-tip, trimmed, patted dry, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 5 tablespoons lime juice, divided, plus lime wedges, to serve
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided
  • 8 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 small red onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 bunch watercress, stemmed

INSTRUCTIONS

In a medium bowl, combine the beef, 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Toss and set aside. In a small bowl, stir together 4 tablespoons of the lime juice, the fish sauce, sugar and remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce.

In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until barely smoking. Swirl to coat the pan, then add the beef in a single layer. Cook without stirring until well browned, about 1 1/2 minutes. Flip each piece and cook until the second sides are well browned, about another 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl.

To the same skillet, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the garlic and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook over low, stirring constantly, until fragrant and the garlic is no longer raw, about 30 seconds. Pour in the lime juice mixture and any accumulated meat juices, increase to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid is syrupy, and a spoon leaves a trail when dragged across the skillet, 2 to 4 minutes.

Add the beef and cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, until the sauce clings lightly to the meat, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and stir until slightly softened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

In a medium bowl, toss the watercress with the remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Make a bed of the watercress on a serving platter. Top with the beef mixture and its juices. Serve with lime wedges.


Stir-Fried Broccoli with Sichuan Peppercorns

Start to finish: 30 minutes | Servings: 4

Sichuan peppercorns don’t provide heat so much as a pleasant resinous flavor and an intriguing tingling sensation on your lips and tongue. To enhance their flavor and aroma, we toasted the peppercorns in a small skillet over medium heat for about 2 minutes, let them cool, then ground them to a fine powder in a spice grinder.

Don’t overtoast the Sichuan peppercorns. It’s better to err on the side of lightly toasted, as the peppercorns become unpleasantly bitter if overdone.

INGREDIENTS

  • ⅓ cup plus 2 tablespoons water, divided
  • 3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 scallions, white and pale green parts minced, dark green parts thinly sliced on bias
  • 1 1/4 pounds broccoli, florets cut into 1-inch pieces, stems peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons peanut or grapeseed oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, toasted and finely ground

INSTRUCTIONS

In a small bowl, stir together the ⅓ cup water, 2 tablespoons of the vinegar, the soy sauce and sugar. In a second small bowl, stir together the remaining 2 tablespoons water and the salt. In a third small bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, pepper flakes and minced scallions.

In a large skillet over medium-high, combine the broccoli, salt water and 2 tablespoons of the peanut oil. Cover and cook for 1 minute; the water should reach a simmer. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli is crisp-tender and browned in spots, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a large plate.

Return the skillet to medium-high, add the remaining 1 tablespoon peanut oil and the garlic-ginger mixture. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 10 to 15 seconds. Add the vinegar-soy sauce mixture and simmer, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, until slightly reduced, 2 to 3 minutes. Return the broccoli to the skillet and stir to coat.

Off heat, stir in the sesame oil, remaining 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of the ground Sichuan peppercorns. Taste and add more peppercorns, if desired. Serve sprinkled with the sliced scallion greens.


Sesame Stir-Fried Pork with Shiitakes

Start to finish: 30 minutes | Servings: 6

Pork tenderloin and kimchi headline this stir-fry, but fresh shiitake mushrooms and a full bunch of scallions add to its umami-rich appeal. For a meatless alternative, substitute a 14-ounce container of extra-firm tofu, drained and cut in 1-inch cubes, for the pork.

Don’t finely chop the kimchi. Larger pieces better retain their texture and flavor.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1-pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin
  • 2 1/2 cups well-drained napa cabbage kimchi, roughly chopped, plus 2 tablespoons kimchi juice, divided
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided
  • 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted, divided
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, divided

INSTRUCTIONS

Cut the tenderloin in half lengthwise, then slice each half crosswise about 1/4 inch thick. In a medium bowl, toss the pork with 1 tablespoon of the kimchi juice, 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

In a 12-inch skillet over high, heat 1 tablespoon of the grapeseed oil until barely smoking. Swirl to coat the pan, then add the pork and cook, stirring, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a clean bowl.

In the same pan over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil until barely smoking. Add the mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid released by the mushrooms has mostly evaporated, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Return the pork to the pan with any accumulated juices and cook until the juices evaporate, 30 to 60 seconds.

Add the kimchi, mirin, the remaining 1 tablespoon kimchi juice and the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce. Reduce to medium and cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, until the kimchi is heated through, about 3 minutes. Stir in the sesame oil, half of the sesame seeds and half of the scallions. Transfer to platter and sprinkle with the remaining scallions and sesame seeds.

PHOTO CREDIT: CONNIE MILLER OF CB CREATIVES