Cooking On A Budget: Szechwan Beef and Vegetable

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Szechwan Beef and Vegetable

From the western part of China the Szechuan Basin is surrounded by rugged mountains. The cuisine of that area tends to be spicy and combines the flavors of hot, sour and salty. Ginger root is often an important and distinctive ingredient in the cooking along with the spiciness of dried red pepper flakes.
This recipe contains the flavor of the ginger root along with the spiciness of dried red pepper flakes. The sauce would most likely be made with light soy sauce, however I am using the dark soy sauce I have on hand. The marriage of soy, mirin, rice wine vinegar should give that salt, sour, sweet taste and control the heat of the red pepper flakes.
Most recipes that call for wok cooking would recommend peanut oil, however some people are allergic to nuts so that would be out. Also, we're cooking on a budget and peanut oil is the most expensive oil on the grocery shelf.

  • 1 lb. beef (sirloin or sirloin tips*) - cut into strips
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. dry sherry
  • 1 tbsp. mirin
  • 2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. shredded ginger root
  • 1 tsp. dried red pepper flakes** - or 2-3 small dried red chillies
  • salt  and pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch bok choy - sliced (I also use the leafy parts nearest the stalk - lots of vitamins and flavor.)
  • 2 cups bell peppers - sliced (I am using tri colored: yellow, red and orange.)
  • 2 medium carrots - thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup celery - medium dice 
  • oil (vegetable or regular olive oil)
  1. Lightly salt and pepper your beef strips and set on a plate.
  2. Prep your veggies and put in a large bowl with the grated ginger root and the dried red pepper flakes.
  3. Get your wok heated to a high heat with some oil added. I spread it around the sides and a little in the base of the bowl.
  4. Quickly stir fry the beef for a couple of minutes and remove to a clean plate or bowl. Do not use the same plate or bowl that had the raw meat on it. You do not want cross contamination!
  5. Add the vegetables to the wok with a touch more oil if necessary and stir fry for a few minutes. Use a wooden or plastic spoon or a spider to move the veggies around.
  6. Last after the vegetables have given off some of their own liquid, add in the soy sauce, dry sherry, mirin and rice wine vinegar to help make the sauce. If you do not have enough liquid add a little bit of beef broth, water or double the initial sauce ingredients.
  7. Let the vegetables cook in the sauce until you reach the desired tenderness that you prefer.

I just love all the brightly colored peppers!

I purchased my beef pre-cut into long strips and cut those down into bite sized pieces. You may find it less expensive to purchase a whole portion and cut in bite sized strips yourself.

Serve this wonderful vegetable loaded meal over rice and get ready for some wow's from your family. With all of the vegetables and a bit of a stretch of the beef served over rice should feed 4-6 people. The cost table represents feeding six people.

1 lb. beef strips
$ 5.76
Bunch Bok Choy
$ 3.64
Carrots, celery, scallions
$ 1.29
Soy sauce, Mirin, rice wine vinegar, red flakes
$   .27
Ginger root, oil
$   .22
Total cost for 6 people
$ 11.18
Per person cost for  people
$ 1.86

 *Use sirloin tips if you can. They are the best beef for stir fry. I used a less expensive round that was pre-cut and it was too tough.
**The cuisine research led me to this cuisine lends itself to spicy. So I overloaded on the red pepper flakes and in doing so got the heat but it over powered some of the other flavors. Start with 1/2 tsp. if you like mild; 1 tsp. if you like hot and you can add more if you taste and want the extra heat.

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