Friday, 26 June 2015

Justine Pattison's Chilli Beef Stir-Fry

OCD Panic Rating: 2/5
Handwashes: 4

I promised that I would make something from this book, originally planning to try the Caribbean lamb stew.  However, with my husband away on business, I wanted something that was easier to cook for one.  It was also way too hot yesterday to make something that involves lots of ingredients and long hours in the oven.  By contrast, this stir-fry takes about fifteen minutes from beginning to end and involves buying little more than some beef.  Sold.

When hubby makes this, he tends to do it with rice, but I hate cooking rice.  It just congeals into a sticky mess or overflows and leaves the top of the oven covered in gloop.  Noodles always make a fantastic accompaniment to a stir-fry, are difficult to ruin, and I have a load in the cupboard.  It was an easy decision.  

The key to this recipe is definitely preparing everything in advance.  Once you've started cooking,  the meal is ready to go within about ten minutes, so you just don't have time to start washing and chopping.  I boiled the kettle to have the noodle water ready, chopped the veg and put together the sauce before even turning on the hob.  I don't have a massive amount of work surface space in my kitchen but I managed to Tetris it in such a way as to make it work.  (The handwashes came from handling the beef, by the way – I needed to use half in the recipe and put half in the freezer, and am apparently incapable of doing this without utter stress)

The blur of ten minute activity was roughly: cook the beef, put to one side, cook the pepper, add the garlic and bits, put the noodles on, add the beef and sauce into the pan, cook until sticky and yum.  I mixed it together until it looked like this:

The noodles refused to unclump but I was ok with that.  And it tasted really good.  Very hot though.  The sauce has mirin, soy sauce, chilli flakes, white wine vinegar and ketchup and is surprisingly fiery but with a satisfying sweetness to it.  I think the way the sauce reduces down and clings to the meat helps to intensify the flavour.  With the noodles, the whole meal comes to about 350-400 calories max, making it a fantastic alternative to a takeaway stir-fry.  I didn't add as much veg as I could've done, but it could be bulked out without adding too many calories with some slivers of carrot, broccoli, or beansprouts.  I thought I loved this cookery book before; now I know I do.

Key Points:
  • Prepare in advance.  Really you should prepare your ingredients in advance of cooking any recipe but it is especially important with these speedy eats.  
  • Leave the preprepared sauces at the supermarket.  The sauce with this was much tastier and deeper than any supermarket sauce you could buy, and it was also much healthier.  Add the core Asian ingredients (mirin, fish sauce, soy sauce, etc.) to your cupboard staples and you'll wonder how you ever did without them.
Win Rating: 5/5. 

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