Chinese New Year ushered in the Year of the Monkey, the ninth of the 12 animals in the recurring 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle. While people born under this sign can be a bit quick-tempered, they’re also thought to be cheerful and energetic. Monkeys might even be described as magnetic.
The recipe we offer below to celebrate the new lunar year has many of the same qualities. Tangy-sweet and crunchy-tender, it offers the perfect balance of flavors and textures. True, it’s more Chinese-American than authentic Chinese, but it’s a favorite take-out dish nonetheless. It was a little spicy for my parents, who got it for their 65th wedding anniversary; next time I’ll cut back on the chilies.
Serve with white rice and charred orange wedges. Chopsticks optional.
From “Asian-American: Proudly Inauthentic Recipes From the Philippines to Brooklyn” by Dale Talde with JJ Goode (Grand Central Life & Style, Sept. 2015, $32)
1 1/2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 fresh red Thai chili, thinly sliced
1 pound boneless rib-eye steak, fat trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sliced red onion
3 scallions, dark greens thinly sliced, the rest cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 Asian dried red chiles
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
2 cups steamed broccoli florets
Make sauce: Combine all sauce ingredients in medium skillet, bring mixture to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until it reduces by about half (to 1 1/2 cups) and it’s just barely thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon, about 10 minutes.
Reserve 1/2 cup for dish. The rest will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days or in freezer for up to 3 months.
Make dish: Combine steak, egg white, cornstarch and salt in bowl and toss with your hands to coat the beef well. Heat oil in a wide cast-iron skillet over high heat until oil begins to smoke. Add beef in one layer and cook without stirring until the bottoms of the pieces are golden brown, about 1 minute. Flip beef, add red onion, scallion pieces and dried chilies and cook, stirring occasionally, until beef is cooked to medium rare, about 2 minutes more. Transfer contents of skillet to plate.
Pour 1/2 cup orange sauce into skillet, let it boil and cook, stirring occasionally, just until sauce thickens to a syrupy texture. Dump rib-eye mixture into sauce and stir until sauce coats the beef, 12 to 30 seconds. Take skillet off heat, stir in orange zest and scallion greens, and transfer the dish to a plate with broccoli.
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