Cooking: Stir-fried Beef with Crispy Youtiao

We went out for congee one weekend morning, and when we finished, there were a few pieces of youtiao remaining (the yeasted savory deep fried bread dough shaped as long puffy strips). Pondering what to do with them, I decided to make this dish. Stir-fried beef with crispy youtiao.

The ginger and scallions provide aroma, the sweetness comes from the onions, theres the umami of the tender beef, and the crunchy texture comes from youtiao.

This dish originates from the coastal province of Zhejiang. I remember having this dish in a chinese restaurants (in Vancouver) in the eighties. But it didn’t last, and disappeared from restaurant menus by the late eighties or early nineties. But our family enjoyed it and recreated it at home. This is my best approximation of the recipe our family made.

Ingredients (for 2 servings)

  • beef, sliced thin, 150 g (about 5.5 oz)
  • onions, 1 cup, julienne cut
  • 2 scallions, cut in 2-3 cm (about 1 inch) lengths
  • ginger, 5-6 thin slices
  • garllic, 1 clove, crushed
  • light soy, 1tsp
  • oyster sauce, 1 tsp
  • sesame oil, a few drops
  • chouhou paste, 1/2 tsp
  • youtiao, about 1 30cm strip cut in thin pieces
  • starch, 1 tsp
  • cooking oil

first step in the preparations, get the aromatics ready, by slicing the fresh ginger in thin slices, and mincing the garlic.

dice the onions into julienne slices, and cut the scallions into short pieces (about 2-3 cm in length)

combine the sliced ginger and garlic with the thinly sliced beef

add the soy, white pepper, a tablespoon of oil, and some starch, and mix to combine

(note: I’ve added the ginger into the beef mixture, but in hindsight, this was in error, it should be stir fried with other aromatics).

Now with the cooking, the first task is crisping up the youtiao. To do this, we refry them, i’m doing a shallow fry (just to conserve oil usage)

heat up some cooking oil over medium heat

once up to temperature, drop some of the youtiao pieces in the oil and fry them

once they brown slightly, take them out of the oil and drain them over paper towels

prepare a wok over medium heat.

Once its up to temperature, add the onions, and ginger, and stir fry for 5 minutes, until the onions turn translucent. This is key. Its when onions become translucent, is when the sweetness of the sugars in the onion start to come out.

remove most of the white onions and ginger, leave a small amount in the wok.

turn up the heat to medium-high

Add the marinated beef and stir fry for 3-4 minutes (until beef is just slightly pink)

turn the heat down to medium, add in the scallions and the previously cooked ginger and onions, toss for about 15-20 seconds.

turn off the heat, and add the seasonings sauces (the oyster sauce and chouhou paste) and toss to combine.

add the refried youtiao

toss to combine

and serve, garnish with finely diced scallions to finish.

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