This stir-fry, in some variation or other, is a much loved dinner in our house. Sure, you can always bring in some Chinese takeout, but if you make your own you can keep it pretty healthy and tailor it to just how you like it. Plus, it's an easy weeknight meal full of ingredients that you can prepare ahead and then just cook in a few minutes (great for when you're rushed in the afternoon and have to get dinner on the table by 4:00 p.m. like me so that you can leave for hockey practice!). We love it and leftovers (if you're lucky enough to have any) are an added bonus!
I always thought you needed a wok and special Chinese ingredients to make a really good stir-fry, but it turns out that a regular non-stick frying pan and ordinary supermarket goodies, are all you need. What's so great about stir-fries too, is that they are so flexible and versatile. Like scallions? Throw them in? Hate broccoli--use asparagus instead. Want to substitute chicken or shrimp for the beef or keep it entirely vegetarian--that works fine as well. Really you can do anything as long as you don't walk away while you are stir-frying. Don't try to sneak in a load of laundry or check your emails--I've learned the hard way how quickly things burn!!
A neat little trick I've learned along the way, is to freeze your meat (beef or chicken)for about 15 minutes (here I used flank steak) so that you can cut nice thin, even slices that all cook in the same amount of time. And while the meat is freezing you can prepare the sauce and any veggies you haven't already chopped up.
Once the meat is browned and cooked through, you remove it from the pan and then it's just a matter of adding things, letting them cook and then adding the next ingredient--all of which takes 15-20 minutes in total, which means that if you put a pot of rice on when you're just about to start the stir-fry, you can have a homemade balanced delicious dinner ready in 20 minutes, probably faster than the delivery guy could get it to your house!!
Stir-Fried Beef and Broccoli in Garlic Sauce
Makes about 4 servings
Prep Time: Kind of depends on what veggies you use and whether you buy them pre-sliced or not. Figure at least 10-15 minutes but most of this can be done way ahead if you have the inclination; Cook Time: 15-20 minutes (shorter if you keep it vegetarian)
For the Stir-Fry
3/4-1lb of flank steak, frozen for 15 minutes and sliced thinly against the grain
2-3 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons dry sherry
2-3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed (use more if you like a lot of garlic)
1 large red onion, chopped roughly
4 teaspoons vegetable oil (don't use olive oil here, it just doesn't work well)
1 1/2-2 lbs fresh broccoli, stems, trimmed and cut into florets
1/2 cup water
For the Garlic Sauce
1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth (use vegetable if you want to keep this vegetarian)
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed (again, use more if you like a very garlicky sauce)
a shake of red pepper flakes
For the Stir-Fry
1. First make the Garlic Sauce: Place the chicken broth, dry sherry, soy sauce, cornstarch and sesame oil in a small bowl and whisk together. Then add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes and combine. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce and sherry and toss the sliced beef in the mixture. Set aside.
3. In another small bowl, mix together the garlic and 2 teaspoons of the oil.
4. In a large 12-inch non-stick pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil over high heat. When it begins to smoke (watch carefully--don't walk away or it can burn on you in an instant) add the beef and cook, turning the slices every now and then, until they're lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the pan and transfer to a plate.
5. Add the last teaspoon of oil to the pan and return it to high heat so that the oil is shimmering. Put the red onion in the pan and cook for about 2-3 minutes, until onion is soft and lightly browned. Transfer to the plate with the meat and set aside.
6. Now add the broccoli and water to the pan, cover it and cook for 1-2 minutes, until the broccoli begins to turn bright green. Remove the cover and cook until the liquid evaporates, stirring frequently another 2-4 minutes, until the broccoli is crisp-tender. Add the onions back in and mix together.
7. Lower the heat a bit. Now, working quickly, push all the veggies to the edges, leaving the a clear space in the center of the pan. Pour the small bowl of garlic and oil into the center and let it cook for about 45 seconds, mashing the garlic against the pan with the back of a spoon or spatula. Careful not to burn the garlic! Now add the cooked beef back in and toss to combine. Quickly whisk the garlic sauce you set aside in Step 1 and pour it over the mixture in the pan. Turn up the heat to medium-high and bring the liquid to a simmer. Remove from the heat, toss the mixture well and serve immediately with rice or noodles.
Note: Recipe loosely based on the Stir-Fry section of The Best Light Recipe by the Editors of Cook's Illustrated.