Stir-fried beef with cumin

It�s healthy, it�s hot and it looks like a million dollars on the plate. Yes sir, this is an all-time goody, almost as much pleasure to cook as it is to eat.
Issue Date: 4 May 2007

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It’s healthy, it’s hot and it looks like a million dollars on the plate. Yes sir, this is an all-time goody, almost as much pleasure to cook as it is to eat.

To quote a famous Japanese cookbook, the stir-fry is best understood as high drama at high heat. And this, of course, is the real secret to a successful stir-fry. In the hands of many neophyte cooks, a stir-fry is a collection of ill-cut chunks of meat and vegetables, boiled slowly in oil. This is so very, very wrong. Read on and discover the right way to an outstanding variation on a stir-fry classic …

For stir-fried beef with cumin for four diners, you will need: • 600g beef • 2 tablespoons of medium dry sherry • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce • 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce • 1 tablespoon Maizena • 2 cups of peanut oil • 2 teaspoons white sesame oil • 50mm fresh root ginger • 5 cloves of garlic • 4 green chillies • 4 teaspoons crushed dried red chillies • 1 tablespoon cumin • 4 spring onions • salt to taste

First, the equipment.
While skottels, heavy frying pans and who knows, maybe even a 1948 Chev hubcap, can be used, the real thing is a wok. To misquote legendary Texan cowboy singer Hank Williams, a good wok, like a good woman, is not too hard to find.
Go for stainless steel and your stir-fry career will soar to giddy heights.

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A real stir-fry needs really high heat. In my experience, this means a big fat gas flame. Because the process creates a great deal of vaporised oil, do this outside, or face a light patina of airborne grease over every single surface in the kitchen, including the ceiling.

Next, the meat. Buy a really nice piece of aged rump, about 30mm thick. Cut this into uniform sections about 3mm thick. The big deal here is the word “uniform”. This is essential to achieve perfect cooking.

Peel and finely mince the garlic and ginger.
Crush the dried chillies into flakes.
Depip and coarsely chop the green chillies.
Cut the green tops off the spring onions and cut them, painstakingly, into longitudinal thin strips. Yes, this is very fiddly, but the look of a meal is almost as important as the taste.
In a dedicated spice grinder reduce the cumin seeds to dust.
Mix the sherry, Maizena, both soy sauces and one tablespoon of water in a bowl to make a marinade.
Add the sectioned aged rump steak and stir, to coat the meat all over. Pour the peanut oil into the wok and bring it up to a medium heat over a gas flame.
Carefully immerse the marinated steak into the hot oil and let it cook for three minutes. Reduce the flame and with a slotted spoon remove and reserve the steak. Pour off the oil; then carefully measure four tablespoons which you return to the wok.
Bring up the heat until the oil is smoking then swiftly add the minced garlic, ginger, ground cumin, dried chillies and green minced chillies. Stir-fry for 30 seconds, then return the cooked steak to the wok.
Stir like crazy to avoid adhesions or burning, lower the flame and add the spring onion tops.
Stir in the carefully measured white sesame oil, and remove from the heat and season to taste with salt.
Serve with hot white rice and cold brown beer. What a blast! – David Basckin |fw