…but, not quite. No, I thought I had done all I needed to do but, I have a bit to learn just yet. Let me give you a little back story. I had been glued to the computer for a long morning’s work. When I looked up, it was nearly 2:00 PM and I had a growing headache. Hunger had come, been ignored and gone away. I decided that a walk around the Sandyford business district was needed to clear my head.
As I wandered past the various cafes and eateries in the district, the headache slowly departed and the hunger quickly returned. I decided that my morning’s work had earned me a quiet, late lunch in my favourite Oriental restaurant, the China Sichuan, run expertly by my friend and all around good guy, Kevin Hui. I was reviewing the menu and trying to choose when Kevin hovered into position at my table, took my menu and whispered something to the waiter. A few minutes later, a dish of Oriental Beef arrived.
It was totally delicious and carried a complex and subtle punch of flavours. Later, Kevin explained that he was experimenting with some new dishes and was thinking of adding this to the menu. I decided that I needed to add it to the menu in our household. I tried to put the ingredients list together in my mind. So, here’s my take (for 4 people) on Oriental Beef.
- 400 grammes of prime beef (I used Cap of the Ribeye)
- 2 teaspoons of 5 spice powder
- 2 teaspoons of cumin
- 2 teaspoons of Sichuan peppercorns
- 2 hot chilis
- 3 onions
- 150 grammes of baby spinach leaves
Firstly, dry fry the cumin and Sichuan peppercorns until aromatic and delicious.Grind the peppercorns and cumin in a mortar. Slice the meat, across the grain, into bite sized pieces. Slice the onions into pieces, about the same size as the beef. Slice the chilis. Wash the spinach. Add a little oil to a wok. Fry the onions until nearly soft. Remove and reserve. Then add the beef a few pieces at a time and stir fry. Stir like a mad thing as the beef will over-cook if you don’t. Add the spices as the beef cooks. Keep stirring. When the beef is nearly cooked, add the chilis. Keep stirring. Just before serving, add back the onions and then the spinach. Keep stirring until the Spinach begins to wilt. Turn off the heat and serve the beef on boiled rice, decorated with a nice little bit of coriander (cilantro). This was delicious. Truly delicious. However, I didn’t manage to get the level of complexity and depth of the original. Kevin might have specified six spice powder (yes, there is such a thing). He might have used additional spices. His master chefs may have employed their years of experience and talent in a way that this amateur can not. Who knows? The restaurant is entitled to its secrets. However, if you manage to make this and it tastes as nice as my version did, you will be very happy. I will try it again, and modify it again, and again, until I get it right….