Every year my husband goes on a little trip with his mother and sister to (usually) sunny Florida while I stay home and mind the fort. It turns out to be a bit of a vacation for me as well, because rather than having lunch and dinner on the table every day I get to eat whatever I want, whenever I want. It was quite liberating to eat lunch at 3 p.m. if  I felt like it, or to have noodles and vegetables in homemade chicken broth three days in a row just because I can.
 
Well, after 10 days of his own cooking (he does none of the cooking at home) my husband has returned with the craving for some Chinese food, in particular something from one of Fuchsia Dunlop's cookbooks. Now that I've had my little rest, I'm happy to oblige and have returned to the kitchen with renewed vigor. Like most of Dunlop's recipes, this dish was easy to prepare and totally delicious. Cilantro tends to be used as a garnish, but in this case it plays a leading role, making the stir-fry very fresh tasting.
 
She calls for almost 2 cups of peanut oil for frying, which I included in the recipe, but I think I used more like 1/3 of a cup. It takes a few minutes longer for the meat to cook, but I just didn't want to use that much oil. Your call. You can find shaoxing wine in most Asian markets, or you can substitute dry sherry. If you don't have potato flour, use cornstarch instead.
 
This recipe is from "Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook" by Fuchsia Dunlop. She has a new cookbook out called "Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking," which I'm going to go out and get this week. My son tells me that her recipe for Ma Po Tofu is the best he's ever had, so I'm excited to try it.
 

Prep time: 15 minutes 

Total time: 25 minutes 

Yield: 2 servings

Beef Slivers with Cilantro

Ingredients

  • 9 ounces lean beef (flank steak is good)
  • 2 fresh red chiles
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, about 5 ounces
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • Dash salt
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 3/4 cup peanut oil for frying
  • 1 teaspoon shaoxing wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoon potato flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon cold water, to mix with the flour
Cooking directions
  1. Cut the beefsteak into thin slivers about 2 1/2 inches long and less than 1/4 inch thick. Add the marinade ingredients, mix well and set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. Discard the stems and seeds of the chiles and cut into thin slivers to match the beef; set aside. Rinse the cilantro and shake or spin dry. Discard and coarser stems and cut the rest, leaves and all, into sections to match the beef.
  3. Heat the oil in a wok over a high heat to about 275 degrees F. Add the beef and stir-fry for 30 to 60 seconds until the slivers have separated; remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  4. Drain off all but 3 tablespoons of the oil and return the wok to a high flame. Add the garlic and chili and stir-fry until fragrant. Return the beef to the wok, add the cilantro and stir-fry vigorously for a couple of minutes, adding the soy sauce and salt to taste, if necessary. When the cilantro is barely cooked, switch off the heat, stir in the sesame oil and serve.

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