Comfort food = Stirfry

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I can explain, really. Back just after high school my dad started watching Martin Yan and we’d have home cooked fried rice and a variety of stir fried meals. Pretty unusual in a town with limited diversity in the ’70s. When I got married, a wok was one of the first wedding presents opened. Chinese and Japanese cookbooks began to appear on my bookshelf.  My family now requests peanut chicken, sweet and sour pork, egg flower soup or home style chow mein for birthday dinners — or lasagna, depends. Now-a-days, we have all kinds of exposure to different cultures and cuisines. But back then, preparing anything different was pretty unusual. Wow, times have changed, just tune in to any of the foodie channels or check out the international aisles at the chain grocery stores to see how lucky we are! That is the wonderment of culture and cuisine, a rare trip around the world in your kitchen and a bridge to better understanding.

So, when I pull out my wok, I don’t think too hard.  I am sure my concoctions are not even close to traditional, authentic or restaurant quality.  Usually it is made it up based on what I have on hand. But what I do come up with is, fresh, tasty and ready in less than 30 minutes, good enough for me.

Shiitake Beef Stirfry with Black Bean Sauce

Shiitake Beef Stirfry in Blackbean Sauce
Homestyle Rice Bowl, Beef, Mushrooms and Blackbean Sauce

Ingredients are the key.
Rehydrate dried mushrooms, 30 minutes in warm water.

I hate to even call this a recipe, but here’s what went into this dinner. Key is how well you prep your ingredients ahead of time. I find the slicing and dicing meditative. Everything must be at the ready before you heat up your wok and go!

Peanut oil for frying
2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 yellow onion, medium sliced
1 pkg dried shiitake mushrooms or 1 dozen fresh cut in half or thirds
2 cups thin sliced steak (leftovers cooked med-rare)
3 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, stems removed
1/4 tsp coarse ground black pepper
1 tbl sesame seeds
3 green onions, finely sliced
1/4 cup finely diced orange bell pepper
Sauce (combine in bowl)
2 tbl Sake
2 tbl water from mushrooms
1 1/2 tsp Lee Kim Kee Black Bean Sauce
1/2 tsp low salt soy sauce 
Soak dried mushrooms in 1 cup warm water for at least 30 minutes. Drain and reserve liquid.
Prep your vegetables, slice thinly and uniformly. Heat your wok or large saute  pan over high heat, add about a tablespoon of peanut oil (must use an oil can take the high heat.)

  1. Add the sliced garlic and onion, stir and toss, do not let the garlic turn brown (it will taste bitter) cook about a minute. 
  2. Add mushrooms and continue to stir/toss. Cook another 2 minutes. 
  3. Add thinly sliced beef, continue cooking another 2 minutes to heat (don’t overcook steak, it has already been cooked once and you just need to heat.)
  4. Add half of the sauce and toss to coat.
  5. Add spinach and cook for about 3-4 minutes to wilt
  6. Add coarse grind black pepper to taste (DO NOT ADD SALT!)
  7. Add rest of sauce, and 1/2 diced bell pepper continue cooking 2 minutes.
  8. Turn off heat and serve over rice
  9. Top with sliced green onions and remaining orange bell pepper – so pretty and fresh tasting!

Cook’s Note: You can use fresh thinly sliced beef, but hey, that is a whole different recipe!

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2 Responses to Comfort food = Stirfry

  1. Bentobird says:

    I want to follow your expert guidance and become a stir fry pro after reading this delicious post!

  2. Robin says:

    You are so kind 🙂 I’m no expert Jenn, there are lots of those to choose from for sure. But I do hope this works for you. I am still learning to be more authentic, and fall back too easily on “ala mama…” This blog is my challenge to continue to learn and share. Happy new week!

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