April 07, 2011
Orange Beef is one of Juli's favorite dishes to order in Chinese restaurants. I'd never made it, so I decided to do some recipe research, then design my own recipe and try it out.
Orange Beef is pretty straight-forward. Thin strips of marinated, cooked beef are coated in a spicy, orange-flavored sauce. The biggest variation between the recipes I studied had to do with how the beef was cooked. Sometimes the strips of beef are deep fried until a bit crisp, while other recipes call for it to be stir-fried until a bit crisp along the edges. I've more often had and enjoyed the deep-fried version, but for my first try at the dish I didn't want to go with the extra step (and potential mess) of deep-frying, so I went with the skillet version.
This dish is pretty easy to make. It takes a bit of prep time, but if you follow the recipe as written, you can do the rest of the prep and get the rice cooked while the beef marinates.
The result was quite good. From having had the dish so often, I had a pretty good idea how to give the sauce exactly the flavor I wanted, and I achieved that the first time out. The beef was tender, yet crispy on the edges, and the flavor and heat level were just right. Juli was pleased, even though she would have preferred the crisper texture one can get by deep-frying the beef. Now that I've got the basics down, I might give that method a try next time, but either way, this recipe is a keeper.
Spicy Orange Beef
yield = 4 servings
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
3 teaspoons Asian (dark) sesame oil
1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 pounds top sirloin, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon long, thin strips orange zest
3 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Whisk together 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, 2 teaspoons orange juice and baking soda in a medium bowl. Add the beef, mix/stir thoroughly to coat the beef in the marinade, then cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
Whisk together 1/4 cup orange juice, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, rice vinegar, grated orange zest, brown sugar, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and water in a small bowl. Set aside.
Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add beef mixture to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is browned and starting to crisp in places (about 6 minutes).
Clear a spot in the middle of the skillet and add the ginger and strips of orange zest. Cook 1 minute, then add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook 30 seconds.
Pour the orange juice mixture from the small bowl into the skillet. Stir in and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Serve with rice.