This is a must try for any serious Sichuan food lover. No expensive cut is needed for this delightful dish. The cooking method calls for marinating the meat first, using a special cooking technique called “velveting” to ensure the meat turns out extremely tender and moist. The classic recipe for this dish uses Chinese celery, which has longer and thinner stalks and a more pronounced “celery” flavor than its Western relative, the common green celery. You can find Chinese celery year-round in most Asian grocery stores. Or use any celery of your choice.
- 300g beef (flank steak is perfectly fine or sirloin if you insist), shredded 牛肉，切丝
- 1 tablespoon potato or corn starch 生粉
- 2 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine 料酒
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce 生抽
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 4 tablespoons cooking oil
- 2 spring onion (white part only)
- 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
- 8-10 dried chili pepper干红辣椒, sliced
- ½ to 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn powder (depending on your level of tolerance of the numbing Sichuan peppercorn)
- 1 tablespoon Sichuan fermented bean paste (Doubanjiang)四川郫县豆瓣酱
- 1 small bunch Chinese celery水芹菜 (or celery of your choice), leaves removed, cut into 5cm-long sections
- 1 teaspoon sugar白糖
- 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds for garnishing
- Cut the beef into small and long shreds. In a large mixing bowl, combine beef shreds with marinade (corn starch, cooking wine, light soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of cooking oil). Set aside for 10 minutes.
- Heat up frying pan over medium high heat, add 4 tablespoons of cooking oil. Once the oil is hot, add ½ of the beef shred. Use a spatula to move around the beef shreds to make sure the meat is quickly and evenly cooked. Cook until the meat turns pale then transfer out on a plate. You can place paper towel on the plate to help filter the extra oil and liquid. Repeat the process with the other half of the beef shreds.
- Now let’s prepare the seasoning ingredients. Add 1 tablespoon of cooking oil (the used oil for cooking beef is perfectly fine) in a clean frying pan over medium heat. Add spring onions and ginger to stir fry for a minute or so until aroma. Then add dry chili, fry for another minute. Add Doubanjiang(the fermented bean paste). Continue to fry for 1- 2 minutes.
- Now turn up the heat. Add into cooked beef shreds. Mix well. Make sure beef shreds are evenly coated with all the seasoning ingredients. In 1 minute later, add Chinese celery, Sichuan peppercorn powder and sugar. Mix well. Cook for another 1 minute. Add sesame seeds (optional).
- Transfer out and serve when the dish is hot.
- It is important to cook the beef shreds in batches as home kitchen stoves do not have as high heat as in the commercial kitchen. By doing so, we could avoid crowding the frying pan as well as use less cooking oil.
- Removing liquid from the cooked beef shreds is critical. You can use kitchen towels as indicated in the recipe. Or simply transfer cooked beef into a colander. The key feature of this dish is ‘dry beef’. Otherwise, you will end up with a ‘soupy’ beef dish.