December 26, 2010

Five-Spice Beef with Peaches

Last weekend, I decided to toss together a Chinese-influenced stir-fry with a mix of flavors different from the ones I typically make.  Looking at the spices and ingredients I had available, I decided to base the dish around Chinese five-spice powder, and to use beef and - for something different - some of the peaches Juli froze a few months ago.  Glancing in the fridge, I noticed some fresh serrano chilis and some carrots.  I decided to use the chilis to give the dish some heat, and the carrots to add some color, flavor and vegetable presence.  From there, I decided to toss in some thinly-sliced green onions to round out the vegetable part of the dish, and some honey to boost the sweetness.  A few more ingredients common to Chinese stir-fries and I had the recipe all ready to go.

Juli and I both loved this one.  It was full of flavor, with well-balanced sweetness and heat, and the five-spice powder stood out without overwhelming the dish.  Juli said it was one of the best stir-fries I've ever done.  I've come up with a lot of good stir-fries, and this one has earned a spot among the best of them.  Give it a try... I think you'll be very happy with the result.

Five-Spice Beef with Peaches

yield = 4 servings

1 1/2   pounds top sirloin steak
5         tablespoons soy sauce
2         tablespoons rice vinegar
1         tablespoon honey
1         tablespoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
1         teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1         teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2         tablespoons peanut oil
1         tablespoon Asian (dark) sesame oil
3         carrots, peeled and sliced into long, thin "matchsticks"
2         serrano chilis, seeded and diced
6         green onions, white and green parts, sliced thin and separated
2         cups frozen or canned peaches
1         tablespoon corn starch
1/3      cup water

Chill the beef for at least 30 minutes, as this makes it easier to slice thin. 

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, ginger, five-spice powder and red pepper flakes.  Stir to combine into a marinade.

Slice the beef into thin slices against the grain.  Stir the beef into the marinade to coat and let sit for 30 minutes, or cover and refrigerate for up to two hours.

Add the peanut oil and sesame oil to a large skillet.  Heat the skillet on medium until the oils are shimmering.  Add the sliced carrots, serrano chilis and white parts of the green onions and stir-fry 5 minutes.  Add the beef and marinade and stir-fry until the beef is browned. 

Add the green parts of the green onions and the peaches; stir in gently to combine and heat through.  In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of water, then add it to the skillet.  Stir in the cornstarch mixture and heat until the sauce thickens.  Serve atop rice.

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