It’s my own fault. I suggested that as I was cooking for the Wife and myself, I might include my eldest and her boyfriend in the pot. They gratefully accepted my offer. Then they did what great negotiators the world over do when they have a deal over the line. They changed the terms.
“We are going to a party and it starts at 9.00. I said we would be early. How long will dinner take?” was the opening twist of the knife. Like the subservient downtrodden father that I am, I took this to heart and got chopping and chopping and chopping. I had not reckoned on this pressure when I decided to prepare my own version of Dry Fried Fillet of Beef with Available Vegetables and Rice. (By available I mean the selection in the fridge.) I got the idea when my butcher in offered me Beef Fillet Tails at a price that was too good to refuse.
Here’s what you will need
- A half kilo (1 pound) of fillet beef – tails if you live in a crumbling economy like Ireland
- 1 red pepper
- 2 carrots
- Some mange tout
- 2 chilis
- 4 spring onions
- 5 cm (2 inches) of ginger
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of rice wine (or sherry, if you were born before 1940)
- 1 tablespoon of chili oil
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 4 tablespoons of peanut oil or similar for frying
- 1 teaspoon of ground Szechuan peppercorns. (Use black or white pepper if you are stuck but the Szechuan really gives a lift like no other to this dish.)
Now for the difficult bit. Get chopping. Cut the top 8 things on my list above into matchstick size pieces (or as close as you can get).
Wash and boil the rice.
When the rice is done, put the wok heat until smoking. Then add the peanut oil and heat that until smoking.
Add the beef and cook it until the oil turns to a disgusting sludge colour. Then keep cooking it. Keep cooking it while fending off questions like I had to. “We need to go soon Dad, when will it be ready?”
And keep cooking it and stirring it. Do this until all the moisture is gone out of the beef and the oil has turned back to a nice clear consistency. The beef will now be a nice dark brown colour. Then add the teaspoon of sugar and stir again.
Then add the vegetables, garlic, chili and ginger. Stir, stir, stir until the vegetables are just cooked.
Sprinkle the Szechuan pepper over the dish. Give it a final couple of stirs. Serve it over rice.