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Far East steak and mushrooms taste far out

Inspired by testing Anglicized and traditional Chinese recipes for the Lunar New Year, I couldn’t resist trying a few riffs of my own. Steak and mushrooms might be the first gustatory power couple I ever fell for, and something about the Cong Bao Rou Si took me back to that classic pairing.

For this recipe, I used beef tenderloin, but in all honesty I think one could get a similar — perhaps even superior — result with flank steak, which is a touch less lean meaning more flavor at almost half the price. Because I was burning Asian inspiration for fuel, I went with shiitake mushrooms, but I couldn’t bear to trigger this union without a little wine.

We had a recipe in today’s paper for Steak Au Poivre, which is among my favorite classic French dishes. That inspired me to pay homage with the unique burn from Szechuan peppercorns, which I was my favorite part of today’s Kung Pao Chicken recipe.

The recipe below isn’t authentic to Asian cuisine in any way, shape or form, but it’s certainly inspired by it and it’s pretty, darn good — if I don’t mind saying so. If you want a thicker sauce, toss a tablespoon of cornstarch in the beef and marinade and mix thoroughly. It’ll cook a touch slower, and you won’t want to drain off any of the liquid. It will dampen the flavor a little, which is why I enjoyed it better without. But different strokes for different folks, and so forth.

So, if you think the recipes I offered for Chinese New Year was one short, here’s one more to try — and if you decide to give it a try, be sure to let me know how it turns out.

Steak and Mushroom Stir-Fry with Leeks and Soy-Wine Sauce

Serves 2-4

1 pound beef tenderloin or flank steak, sliced into thin strips

6 to 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms roughly sliced

1-2 leeks, greens removed, tips clipped, halved lengthwise then julienned into thin strips

1-2 thin-sliced serrano or Jalepeno peppers, optional

5 tablespoons peanut or grapeseed oil

1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced or grated

2 tablespoons Worcestershire

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoon full-bodied red wine

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon fresh ground Szechuan peppercorns

Salt and pepper to taste

In a mixing bowl, combine Worcestershire, red wine, soy sauce, sesame oil, and minced garlic. Add beef and spoon marinade over meat. Pack beef and marinade in the bowl, cover with plastic and refrigerate at least 30 minutes to two hours.

Heat a cast-iron skillet (or wok if you have the proper stovetop) over high heat. Add two tablespoons of peanut or grapeseed oil, swirl and let heat about 30 seconds. Add beef and stir-fry 3 to 5 minutes depending on the stovetop and pan efficiency.

Remove beef to drain off a litte of the liquid, then transfer to a clean mixing bowl. Rinse and wipe down skillet, return to high heat and add 2 more tablespoons of peanut or grapeseed oil, then add the mushrooms. Stir fry 1 to 2 minutes, transfer to bowl with beef. Rinse and wipe down skillet, return to high heat and add remaining peanut or grapeseed oil. Swirl and heat then add ginger. Toast up to 20 seconds in the oil, then add the leeks and season with salt and pepper as you stir-fry until the leeks soften, about 90 seconds.

Once the leeks have softened, add the beef and mushrooms back to the skillet and combine all ingredients over high heat two minutes. Add the sliced hot peppers and stir-fry about 30 seconds, combining thoroughly then remove from heat.

Serve immediately with steamed white rice.

SOURCE: Dave Cathey

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Dave Cathey

The Oklahoman's food editor, Dave Cathey, keeps his eye on culinary arts and serves up news and reviews from Oklahoma’s booming food scene. Read more ›