Because the beef is shredded finely, you can use relatively tough cuts of meat that would normally require longer cooking and so keep the cost down. As a little meat goes a long way in stir-fries, even though this doesn't exactly qualify as vegetarianism, it's still a small step towards being kinder to our world's resources.
I've been buying rump tails of beef from the chill cabinet at Wing Yip Supermarket on the North Circular (London). It's a bit of the luck of the draw as sometimes you get tender cuts that can be flashed up in the pan as steaks, or it's connective tissue-heavy and best used for this dish. I get the 5kg pack and cut it into portions which I then bag up and freeze.
I like a strong flavour but you can adjust the ingredients to your taste.
Ingredients for two people:
Half a bulb of garlic (about 8 cloves), peeled and crushed
1 knob of ginger, peeled and grated or 1 dessertspoon of powdered ginger
1 dessertspoon of Demerara brown sugar, or palm sugar
A dash of honey (optional)
Chilli seeds or sliced chillis (optional)
12oz to 1lb beef (rump tail or even stewing steak)
1 medium Spanish onion
1 red and 1 green pepper
A selection from mange tout, baby sweetcorn, cucumber batons, broccoli according to availability.
Peanut or rapeseed oil
Start with a very sharp knife. I sharpen mine each time before I cook using this very effective Japanese minoSharp. I used to use a carborundum stone but this works better.
The reason your knife must be sharp is that you have to shred the beef finely. This was always the sous chef job my mother gave me, and she trained me well! Which may explain my admiration for sharp objects.
Here's the chef's method. Note the bent knuckles so the flat of the knife blade rests against the upper finger joints instead of slicing through them.
If you couldn't see through the beef once it was shredded, there'd be hell to pay. Hmm, I must be slipping. But at least I cut against the grain of the meat, keeping the beef tender by chopping up the long fibres of tissue.
Mix the marinade sauce into the beef and place to one side.
Wash and prepare the vegetables as we did for stir-fry noodles and seared salmon.
To cook, get a heavy frying pan or wok very hot and add a tablespoon of peanut or rapeseed oil. Heat until it smokes. Add the beef and stir.
Stir until all the pink disappears, add a splash of sesame oil, and place in bowl to keep warm while you stir-fry your vegetables in batches. Remember, hot but crunchy.
When the last vegetables are cooked, add all the vegetables and beef to the pan to briefly heat up. Add another splash of sesame oil as you stir.
Serve on noodles or boiled rice, and sprinkle with coriander leaves.