Chinois Stir-Fried Orange Beef With Chilies

A Warming Autumn Stir-Fry

The pace of life in summer can be so relaxed that when autumn comes, it sometimes feels as if you've been shot out of a cannon. And that's doubly true for those of us with houses full of kids.

There are school drop-offs and pickups, after-school activities, get-togethers with friends, and all sorts of other demands on our precious time. Add to that the approach of Halloween with all its costumes, parties, decorations, and treats, and then holiday season planning and shopping after that, and family meals suddenly drop to the bottom of your to-do list.

If you stock your pantry with a few basics from the Asian food section of a well-stocked supermarket, however, you'll have everything on hand to make this Chinois Stir-Fried Orange Beef With Chilies recipe that's surprisingly easy to prepare, especially when you consider all the complex flavors and textures it delivers.

As the father of two little boys and two grown ones, I can also tell you that this Chinois Stir-Fried Orange Beef With Chilies is a recipe your children will love.

Let's first consider the pantry ingredients you should have on hand. There's peanut oil, which I like for its high frying temperature and touch of richness; but any flavorless vegetable oil, such as soybean oil, will also do fine. You'll want a small bottle of shaoxing (pronounced "shaow-sheeng"), Chinese rice wine, used for its complex balance of savory and slightly sweet flavors; if you can't find it, you can substitute a good dry, but not too dry, sherry, such as an amontillado or a manzanilla. Add good-quality light soy sauce, mushroom-flavored soy sauce, and a small jar of Chinese black beans to your list, too.

The remaining ingredients should already be in your pantry, refrigerator, or freezer; you can even buy the steak ahead and keep it in your freezer, which makes it all the easier to slice thinly after you've thawed it in the fridge for a few hours. Any other items remaining on the ingredients list can be picked up on a quick swing through the market.

The stir-frying itself goes quickly in a large wok or saute pan. Which leaves only one thing you need to do in advance: marinating the steak in "brown velvet," a quickly assembled seasoning mixture that gives the meat rich flavor and, as the name suggests, a velvety texture when stir-fried.

But you can get that going before you head out the door to pick up the children from one of their after-school activities. Then, dinner will be ready to put on the table in less time than it takes you to steam a pot of rice to soak up the delicious sauce from your Chinois Orange Beef With Chilies stir-fry.

Chinois Stir-Fried Orange Beef With Chilies Recipe

    Prep Time: 30 minutes

    Cook time: 30 minutes

    Yield: Serves 4

Chinois Stir-Fried Orange Beef With Chilies Recipe Ingredients

    1 pound well-trimmed flank steak, cut into thin, bite-sized strips

    Brown Velvet (recipe follows)

    6 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil

    6 dried organic Thai chilies or other small hot chilies, coarsely broken

    2 tablespoons chopped garlic

    2 tablespoons sugar

    1/2 cup orange juice

    1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

    1/4 cup Chinese rice wine (shaoxing)

    4 scallions, green parts only, cut into 1-inch pieces

    4 teaspoons light soy sauce

    2 teaspoons mushroom soy sauce

    2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in with 1/3 cup cold water

    Fresh organic cilantro leaves, for garnish

    Steamed jasmine rice, for serving

Chinois Stir-Fried Orange Beef With Chilies Recipe Directions

    In a mixing bowl, toss the steak slices with the Brown Velvet. Cover and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for about 1 hour. Remove from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature about 20 minutes before cooking.

    Heat a large wok or saute pan over high heat. Add 4 tablespoons of the oil and, when it's hot enough to swirl easily, add the beef, lifting it from the bowl and shaking off excess liquid; stir-fry, stirring briskly and continuously, until cooked through and evenly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the beef to a clean bowl and set aside. Carefully wipe the wok clean with paper towels.

    Return the wok to high heat and add the remaining oil. When the oil is hot, carefully add the chilies, garlic, and sugar and rapidly stir-fry until fragrant.

    Carefully add the orange juice, orange juice concentrate, and rice wine and stir briefly. Boil until it reduces by about a third, 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    Return the beef to the wok and add the scallions, soy sauce and mushroom soy sauce. Stir briefly. Quickly re-stir the cornstarch-water mixture and drizzle it in, stir-frying continuously until the sauce thickens and turns glossy.

    Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with cilantro, and serve immediately with steamed jasmine rice.


    Makes about 1/2 cup

    2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

    2 tablespoons soybean oil or other flavorless vegetable oil

    1 tablespoon cornstarch

    1 tablespoon mushroom soy sauce

    1 tablespoon minced garlic

    1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce

    1 teaspoon toasted Asian-style sesame oil

    1 teaspoon minced scallion

    1/2 teaspoon finely chopped Chinese black beans

    1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

    1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

    1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes

    Pinch grated orange zest

    Put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Refrigerate in a covered container until ready to use.


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