Thursday, April 14, 2011

Orange Beef with Purple Cabbage

Satay. Pho. Dim Sum. Maki. Though they don't translate into English directly, you probably know what at least a couple of these words mean.

Asian cuisine is no longer foreign to us. 

With a typical flavor profile that is a balance of sweet, salty, hot, and sour, it is appealing (and quite addictive) to almost everyone.  Stearing clear of the fried options, it is also fairly healthy.  

From my perspective as a mom,  Asian food is the perfect opportunity to get my kids to eat vegetables.  From my chef point of view, I like the fact I can find the odds and ends from my veggie box and have an intelligent use for them.  Purple cabbage was one of these veggies.  I like cole slaw only with certain things and the texture of it isn't my favorite for salads, so I was trying to find a use for the two mini heads that appeared in my veggie box today.  Then I remembered the grass-fed stir-fry beef in my fridge.  Perfect. A profusion of oranges factored into creating a base of flavor for the marinade. With some julienned carrots and sliced scallions for color and additional nutrients, the dish came together beautifully.  Feel free to use chicken or pork if you have it on hand instead of the beef and whatever veggies you have in place of the cabbage.  This sauce will be delicious with almost any combination of meats and veggies. 

Cooking Note:  You will need to cook half this recipe at a time if you don't have a skillet or wok with a large (12" or more) bottom surface.  If you do it all at once, everything will steam because there won't be high enough heat to caramelize the sugars of the vegetables and meat.  In turn, you will miss a lot of the flavor that comes with cooking on high with little liquid.

Veggie Box -  purple cabbage, green garlic, carrots

CWYG List Items - onion, garlic, rice, sesame oil, tamari sauce, sherry, ginger, beef, oranges, scallions

Orange Beef with Purple Cabbage
Heads up for the rice if you're like me and have a weakness for white rice, but know there are definitive benefits to eating brown rice.  In order to overcome this weakness, I insist on using Basmati or Jasmine brown rice and have recently adopted this method for cooking instead of the traditional 2:1 ratio in a saucepan which seems to always come out either uncooked or gooey (great for a chocolate cake but not for rice).  It takes a full hour plus a few minutes to boil the water up front, so plan accordingly and either make it a day before or do this first before prepping the other ingredients.

1 1/2 cups brown Basmati or Jasmine rice
1 orange, zested and juiced (add more juice or OJ concentrate to make 1/2 cup if necessary)
2 tsp sesame oil, divided
2 tbsp tamari (or soy) sauce, divided
5 cloves garlic, minced (I used some green garlic from veggie box), divided
1 2" piece of ginger, peeled and grated, divided
2 tbsp agave nectar or natural sugar
2 tsp kosher salt, divided
12 oz - 1 lb of sirloin cut into 1/4" thick slices (preferably 100% grass-fed)
2 tbsp sherry
2 tbsp cornstarch

2 tbsp canola or grapeseed oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 small head of purple cabbage (1/2 lb), shredded or julienned

2 carrots, peeled and julienned or shredded
2 scallions, thinly sliced
red pepper flakes, optional if you want a spicy stir-fry

Prepare rice then prep ingredients while it's cooking.

In a medium bowl or zip top bag, combine half each of the orange zest, sesame oil, tamari sauce garlic, ginger agave and salt.  Mix well then add beef.  Marinate for 30 minutes on counter or up to 24 hours in fridge.

For sauce, mix the orange juice with the remaining orange zest, sesame oil, tamari sauce, garlic, agave, salt, sherry and cornstarch in small jar and whisk well.

In a skillet or seasoned wok, heat half of the oil.  Add half the ginger and red pepper flakes if using.  Let sizzle for a few seconds then add half the beef in a single layer, reserving the cooking liquid.  Let cook on high for a couple of minutes without moving it at all so it will brown well.  Flip the beef over to let the other sides brown. 

Remove the beef to a plate then add the onion and let it brown a bit.  Add the cabbage along with 2 tbsp of water and some of the marinating liquid to help the cabbage wilt quickly.  Cook for 3-4 minutes until the cabbage is softened and the marinating liquid has reduced significantly.  Add the carrots, scallions and beef.  Toss to warm the beef then add half the sauce mixture.  Cook until it is thick and coats everything well.  Serve over rice.  Repeat with the remaining elements.

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