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The Chinese have some truly weird and wonderful names for dishes. Some metaphorically refer to the origins of the foods, like ‘Jadeite Jade soup’, spinach and tofu soup, alleged to have first been cooked by a village woman for hungry emperor Qian Long. Or ‘Buddha Jumped Over the Wall’ - a rich soup with meat and seafood that would tempt Buddha himself with the delicious smell.
‘Ants Climbing Trees’ might not evoke the most appetising image but it’s spot on visuals - cooked minced pork on glass noodles looks just like that. ‘Fried Flies Heads’ sounds even more disgusting but the dish is simply minced pork again with black beans and Chinese chives - not entirely sure if it’s the pork or the beans that are supposed to be the flies.
‘Lion’s Head’ is a solemn name for meatballs and ‘Rolling Donkey’ is actually a rice roll filled with sweet bean paste. Thai food keeps up with the ‘Weeping Tiger’ grilled beef and ‘Drunken Noodles’ that are supposed to cure hangover.
So I think I can be forgiven for my ‘Sizzling Beef’. Of course it doesn’t sizzle when you get to eat it - it only sizzles when it hits the wok. But it’s much nicer to call it that than a boring ‘beef stir-fry’. And it’s damn well sizzling good!
sizzling beefServings: 2Time: 15 minutes plus marinating
- For the beef:
- 250g (1/2 pound) beef sirloin, rump or fillet tail
- 1 tsp corn flour
- 2 tbsp. dark soy sauce
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
- For the stir-fry:
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 2 bird’s eye chilies, deseeded and chopped
- 1 red pepper, cored, deseeded, and cut into strips
- 1 large carrot, julienned
- 100g (4 ounces) cup mushrooms, sliced
- 1 courgette, cut into thick matchsticks
- a few leaves of Chinese (Napa) cabbage or romaine lettuce, shredded
- 3 tbsp. black bean sauce
- 1 tbsp. sweet chilli sauce
1. Mix the corn flour, soy sauce, sesame oil and wine in a bowl. Slice the beef across the grain then cut into 1cm thick strips. Add the beef to the marinade and stir to coat every strip well. Leave for at least half an hour if you can.
2. Heat up a wok until smoking. Add the vegetable oil and throw in the marinated beef. Stir fry it for a minute, only until the strips colour slightly. Remove the beef back into the bowl and keep warm.
3. Add a little more oil to the wok if it looks dry. Add the chillies and then the vegetables. Stir fry for 5 minutes until they start to colour a little.
4. Stir in the black bean and the sweet chilli sauce. Return the beef to the wok and stir everything around well. When the vegetables look cooked, divide the stir-fry between plates and serve with plain noodles or rice.