Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cheap Bastid's Chinese Steak

Fall is here and we’re cooking more inside. I’ve always loved cooking in the wok. Wok cooking is simple. Typically the hardest part is the prep and having everything ready to go before cooking. But that’s simply a matter of “slicing and dicing”. Chinese-style cooking is also something that goes well with Cheap Bastid’s love for simple, inexpensive, fresh ingredients. And, proteins like meat especially go further Chinese style making it even better for diet and budget conscious folks.

Here’s one of my all-time favorite Chinese recipes to cook and especially to eat. This dish is pungent and tasty. It combines beef with my favorites of tomatoes and onions along with an aromatic sauce that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

It’s served over rice, or with rice on the side, whichever you prefer. So first, I’m going to provide my basic rice recipe which I got 25 years ago from “Madame Wong’s Long-Life Chinese Cookbook” which came with my first wok. This is as close to “foolproof” rice as you can get without investing in a rice cooker.

And yes, the rice will stick together when you serve it and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. You can’t eat rice with chopsticks when the grains are all separate and going their own way. And I think this tastes far better than “Minute Rice”. It’s just basic, long-grain rice that I buy in bulk at the grocery store for $.79/lb.

2/3 cup long grain rice per serving (rice—not Uncle Ben’s
or Minute Rice any other boxed rice—just rice)

Put the rice in a sauce pan. Rinse with cold water about 4 or 5 times to clean it. Rinse by covering it with cold water and swirling it around then draining the water (you don’t need a strainer, just gently pour the water off). After rinsing, cover the rice with water—put enough water in the pan so that when you poke your finger in it to the rice, the water comes up to your first knuckle (about ¾ inch).

Put the pan on the stove UN-covered with the burner turned on high. When the water is boiled off—about 8 minutes—turn the heat as low as it will go, cover the pot and let it steam for about 20 minutes. By the way, the water is “boiled off” when there are “craters” in the rice with bubbles popping out. When you cover and turn the heat down, the remaining water will cook off while the burner cools.

Usually, when you cover the pan is when you can go ahead and start heating your wok to cook the rest of the meal. All your prep for the wok should be done, and you can just start cooking. This will usually mean that the wok cooking is done and the rice is done at about the same time.

Chinese Steak

1-1½ lbs sirloin steak
¼ cup soy sauce
Couple of good splashes sherry or wine
Tbsp Ginger
Tbsp Garlic Powder
Diced onion—about 3 tblspns
2egg whites (give the yolk to the dog)
3tbsp cornstarch
1 cup oil for frying
2 tomatoes cut into wedges—about 8 wedges each
1 cup onion cut into appx. 1” long slices

Sauce: 4 tbsp Worcestershire, 4 tbsp ketchup, 2 tbsp sugar, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp red wine vinegar. Mix all together in advance.


Using a meat tenderizer/mallet pound meat on both sides. Cut meat into 1” cubes then put into a non-metal dish or into a 1 gal. freezer bag. Mix the soy sauce, sherry/wine, ginger/garlic powder & diced onion together and pour over meat. Marinate at least 2-4 hours. Add the egg white and cornstarch and mix thoroughly into the meat mixture.

Start the rice. Put wok on burner, burner to high, add 1 cups oil. Heat until water flicked on oil immediately sizzles off. Add meat in small batches (about 1/3 at a time) and fry 2-3 minutes per batch—allow oil to reheat between batches. Drain on a plate or in a pan lined with 2-3 paper towels.

When meat is done, let oil cool then drain all but 2 tblspns of oil from the wok. Reheat the wok. Add onion and cook for 1-2 minutes just until they start to soften. Add the beef and stir fry for a couple of minutes. Add the sauce and and stir all together. Add tomatoes, mix everything and serve over rice. Serves 4.
This smells fantastic during the final cooking when the meat and sauce and onions and tomatoes all get together in the wok. And it tastes just as good. It’s got just a bit of “heat” (enough to make the top of my head sweat a little) and that comes from the worchestershire.

Did this meet the Cheap Bastid test? Well, the sirloin cost $2.00 on special at Stater Bros. And I used about ½ lb of rice for another $.40. Plus, 1 lb of tomatoes for $1 and half an onion for about $.25. Total budget for this great dinner for 2 was $3.65. And there’s left-overs for tomorrow too.

That’s the Cheap Bastid way: Eat Well, Eat Cheap, Be Grateful

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