Beef and broccoli

When I was young, I wanted to be a tall, blonde Viking Goddess but quit growing (up, anyway) at 5 foot 2 inches. Many years ago on my first trip through the Far East, I was amazed that I was a tall blonde compared to much of the population. Tall at last.

While living in San Francisco, I was introduced to many different regional styles of Asian cooking. Chinese ranged from Sichuan to Hunan to Cantonese, etc. I loved the range of flavors. The use of fresh ingredients combined with the myriad of preserved sauces available produced fabulous cuisine. (I really miss Sunday brunch in a Dim Sum palace, hard to find in the Midwest.)

You can make a decent stir fry with ingredients found in a supermarket. For a real treat and a dizzying assortment of ingredients, I go to the 888 market in Overland Park.

One of my BFF’s is San Francisco native Joyce Jue, who has written and received many awards for her books on Asian cooking. We did a lot of traveling together in the Far East, studying the various cuisines. She translated them into recipes easily understood and easily made for Western palates.

You really don’t need a wok to produce great stir-fry recipes. However, it is great fun to toss the food about and they are not expensive. Do use a large skillet so you can stir the food about without sending it all over the kitchen. Keep it really hot. (We made T-shirts that said Wok Tall or Wok This Way, etc. Joyce has a great sense of humor!)

This recipe is perfect for American palates and a great way to learn to stir fry.

Just get everything ready before you start, always a good plan anyway. Once the action begins, you won’t have time to look for the sesame seed oil! The assembly takes more time than the cooking.

Cook’s tip: Never use anything labeled cooking sherry — it is dreadful and usually full of salt.

Chinese-American Beef and Broccoli With Oyster Sauce

  • 1-pound flank steak, skirt steak, hanger steak or flap meat, cut into 1/4-inch thick strips
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (divided)
  • 1/4 cup shaoxing wine or dry sherry (divided)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium homemade or store-bought chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, finely minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger
  • 3 scallions, whites finely sliced, greens cut into 1/2-inch segments, reserved separately
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable, peanut or canola oil
  • 1 pound broccoli florets (about 1½ quarts)

Combine beef, 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1 tablespoon shaoxing wine in a bowl and toss to coat. Place in refrigerator and let marinate for at least 20 minutes at room temperature and up to three hours.

Meanwhile, combine remaining soy sauce with cornstarch and stir with a fork to form a slurry. Add remaining xiaoshing wine, chicken stock, oyster sauce, sugar and sesame oil. Set aside. Combine garlic, ginger and scallion whites in a bowl and set aside.

Add oil and heat until starting to smoke. Add beef and cook, stirring and tossing until beef is lightly charred but still pink in spots, about one minute. Push beef to sides of wok to clear space in center. Add broccoli and cook, stirring in center until lightly charred, about 30 seconds. Toss with beef and push up sides of wok. Add garlic/ginger/scallion mixture to center of wok and immediately push all ingredients into center, tossing and stirring until beef is cooked through and broccoli is just barely tender but still crunchy, about 30 seconds longer. Stir sauce and pour into wok (it should immediately start to boil). Add scallion greens. Toss all ingredients to coat in sauce and cook until lightly thickened, about 30 seconds. Carefully transfer to a serving platter and serve.

I mentioned this recipe before but it is worth repeating. I used to make the dough for these when I was a caterer. I am not a fan of many canned biscuit recipes; however, in this case, these work.

Scallion Cakes

  • Canned refrigerated biscuits (the large Grand size)
  • Toasted sesame oil
  • Sesame seeds (I like the black ones best)
  • Very thinly sliced green onions, white and light green parts

Separate biscuits, roll each into 6-inch circle. Brush both sides of biscuit with sesame oil, sprinkle on sesame seeds and onions, pressing in gently. Set aside for a few minutes; they will rise a little.

Heat a large pan with a small amount of vegetable oil, fry cakes until nicely browned on both sides (just turn them once). Cut into wedges to serve.

Lonnie Gandara Taylor is a St. Joseph native who has returned home after a prestigious career in the culinary field. She taught cooking classes in the San Francisco Bay area for years and was a professional assistant to Julie Child, James Beard, Martha Stewart, Simone Beck and Martin Yan, among others. She is a graduate of the Paris Cordon Bleu, the Academie du Vin in Paris and the first culinary class held in the Oriental hotel in Bangkok, as well as being the author of five cookbooks.