Tuesday, February 24, 2015

It's Not Asian- It's Asianish

Some days you just have to improvise. Like today. No idea what to cook for dinner, and two choices in the refrigerator- hamburger and boneless beef "ribs". I find myself in a cooking rut every now and then and need to do something to break out of it. Hamburger, hmm.... spaghetti, chili, brown gravy with macaroni. Hamburgers? Meatballs? Meatloaf even? All the same old same old. Boring. Nothing jumps out at me as exciting. 

So Plan B- the boneless beef ribs. They really aren't ribs at all, they look like strips cut from some sort of roast. Nicely marbled so they braise like a charm, but that gets back into the same old same old pattern. I need something creative. A quick foodie conference with my friend Andi and we have decided- something with an Asian twist so I can get some more kimchi on the plate. Perfect! It's not Chinese, nor Korean, nor Japanese for sure, but it is delicious, and easy and reminds me of yummy Chinese takeout. It's....... Asianish.

I like to think I keep a well-stocked pantry when it comes to the basics. I almost always have rice on hand, and soy sauce, something spicy like Sriracha, some kind of veggie to throw in a stir fry. I can do this, and I think it will turn out quite delicious. So I begin by cutting up those pieces of beef. 

If you look at them you can clearly see the grain of the meat, and which direction the fibers are going. To get nice, tender pieces of beef it's important to always cut against the grain, otherwise your bite sized pieces will be stringy and tough.

Trim off any visible fat and slice thinly across the grain. Toss them in a food-safe zip top bag and add the marinade ingredients, zip it up and toss in the fridge to marinate while you work on whatever you need to do- catch up on housework, watch some television, as long as you leave the meat to marinate for a couple of hours. When you're ready to cook, just stir fry with the vegetables of your choice and serve- super easy. Works with chicken and pork as well.

Asianish Stir Fry

1- 1 1/2 lbs boneless beef
5 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup soy sauce, divided
1/4 cup Sriracha sauce, divided
1/4 cup brown sugar, divided
2 tb cooking oil
small bunch scallions or small onion
1 stalk celery
1 carrot
other veggies you like
hot cooked rice

Trim meat of excess fat. Cut into thin bite-sized pieces and place in zip top bag. Roughly chop the garlic and add to bag, followed by ginger, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and oil. Close the bag and knead to mix marinade ingredients and cover the meat completely. Place in fridge and allow to marinate for a couple hours.

Cut the scallions into one-inch pieces or julienne the onion. Sometimes I used both so I get a Mongolian beef kind of thing going on. Slice the celery thinly, on the bias. Peel and shred the carrot (or use the peeler to make long thin strips). Slice mushrooms and any other vegetables you are adding.

Heat some additional cooking oil in a large skillet or wok. When screaming hot, add the meat and cook, stirring, until done. Remove from pan, stir fry the vegetables for about one minute, then return meat to pan along with remaining soy sauce, Sriracha and brown sugar. Toss to coat evenly and thicken slightly. Serve over hot cooked rice with a nice serving of kimchi, if desired.

While this dish claims no particular Asian origin, many of the flavors carry that Asian flair. Soy and brown sugar combine to make a delicious sweet and salty base and the Sriracha kicks it up a lot. Kimchi makes a perfect partner with its fresh and crunchy texture. So do those kooky Chinese "noodles" you see in the grocery store- chow mein noodles- or crispy fried strips of wonton wrappers. 

I happened to have half a package of wonton wrappers hanging around that needed to get used up. If you don't use these for lots of things, you are missing out- they make not only every kind of Asian dumpling I can think of but they also make a great stand in for fresh pasta when making homemade ravioli or lasagna. They fry up in just seconds to give you crispy golden "noodles" to top your dish or salad, soup- whatever you like.

Make this dish into a party by adding egg rolls, crab rangoons and any other Asian foods you like. Any kind of boneless steak works great, especially sirloin, as well as pork or chicken. Shrimp would be a great option as well, as long as you omitted the long marinating time. Remember, it's not genuine, it's "Asianish."

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