Saturday, August 10, 2013

Stir-Fried On Choy with Beef and Fermented Bean Curd

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I was at the grocery store recently and came across On Choy (空心菜, 通菜) that was on sale for a great price, so I decided to make On Choy with Beef for dinner.  Having homemade meals certainly is much more healthy than eating out all the time, and it also helps save money when especially seasonal ingredients are used.  There are several variations of On Choy that I have on this site, but this is the first recipe that will be combining a meat and wet bean curd as the sauce.  To those who are new to some of the ingredients in this recipe, here is a picture of the major ingredients used.

There are two types of On Choy that can be found at the local Chinese grocer.  There is a white variety and a green variety.  I personally prefer the green variety because it's more crispy, while the white one tends to release a lot of water during the cooking process.  On Choy translates to hollow vegetable, because the stalks are hollow along its length.

The following ingredients will be needed to make On Choy with Beef:
  • Wet fermented Bean curd (jar pictured earlier)
  • Sirloin steak (or other cut of beef that can be thinly sliced)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced (divided in 1/3 equal portions)
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 large bundle of Green On Choy
  • 1 tsp. Sugar
  • Cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. Soy sauce

Before we cook the On Choy, we will need to do some preparation:
  1. Take a serving portion of beef and slice thinly.  Be sure to trim off excess fat beforehand and always slice perpendicular (90 degrees) to the grain of the muscle fibres.  If the blade of the knife follows the muscle fibres, be prepared for some chewy meat.
  2. Add the soy sauce, 1 tsp of cornstarch, 1/3 of the garlic to the beef.  Mix the ingredients around evenly using your hand, and let it sit for an hour in the refrigerator to marinate.
  3. Cut each stalk of the On Choy so that long stems are trimmed to manageable biting portions (roughly 5 inches long).  Also remove the non-leafy stems at the bottom of each stalk.
  4. Rinse the On Choy using water after trimming them and place to one side.
  5. Spoon out 3 small cubes of the wet bean curd to a small  bowl, and add 1 tsp of sugar.  Mash up the bean curd with a dessert spoon and mix well with the sugar to form a paste.  Wet bean curd will give off a lot of water as it sits in the sugar, so there should be no rush to add water to form the paste.
To cook the On Choy with Beef:
  1. Heat up a wok on medium high heat
  2. Toss in the 1/3 of the garlic, wait 10 seconds, then toss in the On Choy.  Stir the On Choy around a little, then cover the wok with the lid.
  3. Every 2-3 minutes check on the On Choy, it will shrink considerably as it cooks.  Once cooked, remove from the wok.
  4. Empty the wok of all excess water, and add oil again to the wok.
  5. Toss in the bean curd mixture, and let it simmer for 1-2 minutes in the wok.  It will bubble quite a bit, but we are in effect concentrating the flavours.
  6. Carefully toss in the On Choy, but DO NOT pour in the excess water that has collected on the plate that held the On Choy.  Save this water in a small bowl and keep to one side.
  7. Stir around the On Choy in the bean curd sauce and then remove from the wok onto the serving plate.
  8. Again, empty the wok, and add some oil again.  Toss in the remainder of the garlic and add the beef to wok and stir fry.
  9. Make a thickened sauce for the beef by adding the On Choy water from earlier, 1 tsp of cornstarch and pouring it with the beef.
  10. Once the sauce has thickened, remove the beef from the wok and place over top the On Choy.
  11. Serve hot.

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