I am not a huge fan of Chinese takeaways to be honest. The grease, the salt, the sugar, and Lord knows what seasonings they use, plus some of their questionable hygiene standards just gives me the heebie jeebies. I have tried so many, from the local takeaways to the extremely posh restaurants, and nah, something is just not right about the food. For the sake of not being a picky eater, I have managed to lock down just one Chinese dish which I order all the time, and I mean all the time. King Prawn Fried Rice. Even at that, at some places it is not so great.
Last Saturday, I was watching the show Saturday Kitchen and there were two Chefs competing in a light hearted Chilli challenge. One of them was Thomasina Miers, someone I admire so much for the way she has brought Mexican street food to London in a big way, with her chain of restaurants Wahaca. She truly is my inspiration, because one day by His Grace my Nigerian street food restaurants like Wahaca and even better will be scattered all over the place. If you watch Food Network, she presents the show Mexican Food made simple. I can’t remember what Thomasina cooked on the show, but the dish of the other Chef struck a chord in me because it was a Chinese dish I truly detest from takeaways and restaurants. Chinese Sweet Chilli Beef.
Once the show was over, I said boy, I am going to try this, and I am glad I did. I made this dish a few days ago for a friend from out of town who was visiting with her family. Staring at the pan when I was done, and tasting it like 10 times, I couldn’t believe I made a Chinese dish that could taste so good and I mean real, real good. As they were facing a long drive back home, I kinda made this dish in a hurry, plus it was already getting dark when I started cooking and we emptied the pan for dinner and takeaway, so I couldn’t take pictures. Yesterday evening, I decided to make this dish again, all calmly and relaxed. It was even better than the last dish, by miles, and that one was really good. I am now sooooo inspired to try many more Chinese dishes, my local takeaway has lost a customer. Full Stop. I spent half the amount of one bowl of takeaway making this, and I have enough leftovers for 2 more meals. Think of your budget on Chinese, and tell yourself, enough, I can do better at home. Lol.
If you have had the shredded beef and green pepper sauce served at Nigerian parties, this is it, but with more va va voom.
You will need
400 – 500g of Frying Steaks – for my readers who buy meat in the market from butchers, you simply need a slab of meat, sliced thinly.
2 – 3 Carrots
1 Green Pepper
1 piece of red chilli or ata rodo (scotch bonnets/habanero pepper)
1 green chilli
Dark Soy Sauce
2 – 3 tablespoons of Corn Flour
Sweet Chilli Sauce
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Curry Powder
1 teaspoon Dried Thyme
1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper – dry pepper
2 teaspoons Jumbo seasoning powder or Knorr chicken cubes
If you are buying meat from the butcher, especially in Nigeria, where our beef can be very tough, whack it a bit with a rolling pin, to flatten and tenderise it a little. If you are buying meat from the supermarket, make sure it reads Frying Steak on the packet.
1. Cut the meat into rectangular strips and set aside.
2. Break two eggs in a bowl, and season with curry powder, thyme, garlic powder, seasoning cube, salt, dry pepper and whisk. When it has fully combined, add 1 tablespoon of corn flour and whisk. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: you will face some resistance at first whisking in the corn flour, but this will disappear with further whisking. Add another tablespoon of corn flour and whisk.
3. Pour this eggy mixture onto the meat and combine with your hands, making sure the meat is properly coated. You may wish to sprinkle in another tablespoon of corn flour, if the mixture is too watery. Leave this in the fridge for 30 minutes and proceed to chopping the vegetables.
4. Julienne the Carrots.
This is just a fancy word for cutting carrots into thin, long strips. Do the same for the green pepper, red onion, chillies and ginger, only that you will have to slice the ginger much thinner. No one wants to bite into a chunk of ginger. Chop the spring onions in rings and set aside.
Pour a decent amount of Olive oil into a small pot and turn the heat to high. You are going to deep fry the meat, so gauge the volume of olive oil. The key is to use a small pot, so the oil can be deep enough, without having to use too much oil.
5. When the oil is hot enough, place the strips of meat into the pot one by one, till there’s no more space. As the meat fries, the coating will turn into pastry, and change from white to golden brown. Once it is golden brown, take it out of the oil and drain on kitchen paper. Fry all the strips of meat.
Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: be careful to fry the strips individually. If you drop them into the pot in clumps, they will stick together. See below.
6. Heat up your Wok or Deep frying pan with 1 cooking spoon of the oil you just fried the meat in, add all the chopped ingredients and stir fry, making sure you shake the pan every few seconds, or you stir with a frying spoon.
7. Once the onions have turned translucent, add the fried meat and stir, then add soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce and let it cook for 1 – 2 minutes.
Then readjust again with soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce. At this point I was just dipping the bottle of each sauce slightly into the pan and tasting as I went along. So, I didn’t measure. Soy sauce and Sweet Chilli sauce have a personal preference in terms of their concentration in food, so let your taste buds guide you.
8. With each addition of both sauces, let it cook for about a minute before readjusting. Stir the beef with the vegetables and add 1 teaspoon or 1 cube of knorr chicken cubes and keep cooking. Keep adjusting with the soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce to your preference. Be careful it doesn’t burn. Turn down the heat if you have to. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: by adding more of both sauces to the pan, the beef begins to cook in the liquid of both sauces, plus the water content of the vegetables, creating a glistening sludge around the strips of meat.
One of the things, well two of the things I don’t like about Chinese cooking is soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce, which is why i started using both sauces sparingly at first, but I found that by adding more, it enhanced the taste of the dish, and I was loving it. Be careful though. Taste very often, so you don’t add too much and overpower the dish. You still want to taste the vegetables.
9. The recipe I used says stop here, but nah, I wanted more sauce. So I added half a cup of water, just so I could get a more liquidy sauce, plus the pastry around the meat, will soften with the addition of water, and absorb the sauce, making it taste even better. Taste for salt, I doubt if you will need to add more, I definitely didn’t. The soy sauce already contains salt, plus you added seasoning cube much earlier. Stir and let this cook till you see the liquid sauce heat up.
Add chopped coriander and stir. Leave it to cook for another minute or so, and take off the heat.
better view of the sauce
From start to finish, this dish took less than 45 minutes. Including chopping and all. If you order Chinese, you will definitely spend more money, and you will wait at least 30 minutes for it to be delivered.
Feast on the pictures and be inspired………………
has your takeaway ever looked this good?
Eat straight from the Wok. Remember to boil some rice, Spaghetti or Indomie noodles, and treat yourself to a fresh, homemade, healthy and delicious dinner. Remember to eye the pamphlet of your takeaway as you are sitting down to eat this. Lol Chinese who? Lol
I boiled a packet of Indomie Noodles and sprinkled in a little chopped coriander when it was done. I have never tried that before, and I really enjoyed the difference in taste.