You know how they say the first rule of effective grocery shopping is to never go when you’re hungry? I think the same should be said of food blogging. It’s shortly after 5:00 P.M. and I’m sitting here with my stomach growling as I look at pictures of this orange beef stir-fry, remembering how delicious it was when we had it recently. If I had a genie in a bottle right now, I think I would make a foolish choice of fairy-tale proportions and wish I had some in my kitchen. It was that good. And I am that hungry.
This recipe comes from Cook’s Illustrated Science of Good Cooking. After taking chemistry over the summer, I figured maybe my brain has been science-ified enough to understand something about how cooking works from a scientific perspective, so I checked this hefty tome out from the library. Plus, I’ve heard Cook’s Illustrated recipes are some of the best around–after all, they tinker with them in a food lab the size of my house (America’s Test Kitchen) to make sure everything comes out as deliciously as possible. According to The Science of Good Cooking, this high-heat stir-fry works so well because high heat develops flavor. Essentially, a high temperature enables a reaction between amino acids and sugars in the meat, developing a flavorful layer of compounds on its surface. This came as a bit of a surprise to me, as I tend to have a fear-the-reaper attitude toward cranking the heat on my stove all the way up to High. In cooking this meal, I was sure it would be too much. The meat would be too tough. It would burn. Nope! I should have known to believe the army of chefs and food testers who work at this full-time. High heat seared the beef to stir-fry perfection, and the sweet citrus sauce made an excellent complement to its savoriness. Throw some steaming rice and crisp-tender veggies in the mix and the whole thing becomes a succulent one-dish dinner.
And now please excuse me. I need to go eat something so I don’t start munching on my computer screen.
Orange Beef Stir-Fry with Onion and Snow Peas
(Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated: The Science of Good Cooking)
3/4 c. fresh-squeezed orange juice
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. packed light brown sugar
12 oz. thin-sliced flank steak
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger (or 1/4 tsp. ground ginger)
1 Tbsp. Hoisin sauce
1 tsp. grated orange zest
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 large onion, halved and cut into 1/2 inch wedges
10 oz. snow peas, strings removed
2 Tbsp. water
4 c. cooked white rice
1. Make the sauce: whisk all sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Combine soy sauce and brown sugar in a shallow dish or large Ziploc bag. Add beef, toss well, and marinate for at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour, stirring once. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine garlic, ginger, Hoisin sauce, orange zest, red pepper flakes, and 1 tsp. vegetable oil.
3. Drain beef and discard liquid. Heat 2 tsp. vegetable oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add beef and cook until browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer beef to a clean bowl. Rinse skillet clean and dry with paper towels.
4. Add remaining 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil to skillet and heat until just smoking. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, about 3-5 minutes. Add snow peas and continue to cook until brown in spots, about 2 more minutes. Add 2 Tbsp. water and cook until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Clear the center of the skillet, add the garlic mixture, and cook, mashing the mixture into the pan, until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Stir mixture into vegetables. Return beef and any accumulated juices to skillet and stir to combine. Whisk orange juice-soy sauce mixture and add to the skillet, stirring constantly about 30 seconds, until thickened. Serve over rice.