January 16, 2011

Tangerine Beef, Take 2

I recently wrote about my first try with a new recipe I've been working on, Tangerine Beef.  That trial run didn't work out quite as nicely as I'd have liked, but it was good enough to show that the idea had some promise.  As I wrote at the time, looking at what aspects of the trial run didn't work out gave me some ideas how to revise the recipe and what to do differently the next time I made the dish.  I finally got around to implementing those ideas, and the results were quite pleasing.

One of the problems I noted the first time around was that the tangerine juice in which I marinated the thin strips of beef was so strong that the beef broke down, the small pieces falling into little chunks resembling ground meat.   This time around I sliced the beef a bit thicker, and I reduced the amount of tangerine juice from about 1/2 cup to two tablespoons.  This was more than enough to impart the beef with citrus and other flavors from the marinade, yet it still maintained its integrity and rich, beefy flavor. 

I also bumped up the amounts of some of the spices this time around, and included some soy sauce, which adds some depth and flavor on its own and which is also one of the best flavor enhancers there is, due to soy being full of glutamates. 

I made a couple other changes, most notably using a bit more green onion and a total of only two tangerines instead of three, and this time I used a bit more beef and went with flatiron steak instead of flank steak, as the flank steak at the meat counter didn't look very good this time around.  These changes resulted in a better balance of the various flavors. 

One change I planned to make the second time around was to remove the membrane from the tangerine slices.  I attempted that, but even with a razor-sharp paring knife, it was more trouble than it was worth, so I left the segments as-is and used them as a garnish for the finished stir-fry.

This time around Juli and I were both quite happy with the results.  As far as I'm concerned, this recipe has gone from a work in progress to "ready for prime time."  If you like the sound of a thin strips of tender beef, fried mushrooms and crisp snow peas overlaid with a pleasant, yet not overwhelming, fruit flavor, give this version of the recipe a try.  I think you'll be pleased with the results.

Tangerine Beef

yield = 4 servings

2        tangerines
1        tablespoon oyster sauce
2        teaspoons soy sauce
2        teaspoons grated, fresh ginger
2        teaspoons minced garlic, divided
1        teaspoon honey
1        teaspoon Asian (dark) sesame oil
1/2     teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1/2     teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/2     teaspoon salt, divided
1 1/4  pound beef flat iron steak, thinly sliced across the grain
2        tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
8        ounces crimini or button mushrooms, thinly sliced
12      ounces snow peas, trimmed
6        green onions, thinly-sliced, white and green parts separated

Use a vegetable peeler or zester to remove the peel from one tangerine in thin strips.  Squeeze 2 tablespoons of juice from one tangerine.   Put the tangerine zest and juice in a zipper-lock bag.  Add oyster sauce, soy sauce, ginger, one teaspoon garlic, honey, sesame oil, five-spice powder, black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the sliced beef.  Seal the bag, shake the ingredients to mix thoroughly and let stand 30 minutes.  Peel and segment the remaining tangerine.

In a large skillet, heat one tablespoon oil over medium heat.  Add mushrooms, remaining teaspoon of garlic and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Cook about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the snow peas and the white parts of the green onion and stir-fry another 3 minutes or so, until the snow peas are tender-crisp.  Transfer to a bowl or plate.

Add the remaining oil to the skillet and heat on medium-high until shimmering.  Add the beef and marinade.  Cook until the meat is no longer pink (about 4 minutes), then stir in the mushroom mixture and the green parts of the green onion.  Cook about two minutes, stirring frequently, then transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the tangerine segments.  Serve over rice.

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