Spicy Dried Fried Beef (Szechwan Style)

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Ingredients are minimal here, but cooking style is a little odd and taste is unique. It takes a lot of slicing prep, but it replicates closely my favorite authentic restaurant's version. Stick with it and you will be rewarded.

Preparation time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins

Serves: 4


1 lb flank steak (or skirt or lastly any flat beef cut)
1 TBS Hot Bean Paste (available at many Asian stores)
1/3 tsp (or to taste) Szechuan pepper powder (or crushed hot pepper)
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp Sesame oil
1 tsp white vinegar
1 TBS Chinese cooking wine (check the Asian market)
3 cups of oil peanut oil (yes, it's a lot)


1. Do a lot of slicing: Place the beef in the freezer for about 15 minutes for easier slicing. Everything is matchstick cut (so it's a bit of pain).
Slice a group of celery, carrots, and green onion into matchstick pieces to taste.

2. Slice the beef into matchstick pieces.

3. Mix together in a bowl the cooking wine, soy sauce, and sugar and set aside.

4. Mix together sesame oil and vinegar and set aside.

5. You need a wok or a really hot good pan. Heat peanut oil until really hot (325)--I warned that this is an odd recipe (but good). Fry beef strips until "dry"--be patient. Lift out carefully and drain on paper towels.

6. While the oil is still hot, gently "soak" the carrots, celery and scallions for a brief time--don't let them brown.

7. Drain most of the oil from the wok, leaving about 2 TBS oil.

8. Heat oil; add bean paste; stir briefly; add beef, celery, carrot and scallions; stir; add sugar, sesame and vinegar mixture; stir briefly.

9. Serve immediately. Sprinkle on more Szechwan pepper powder if you have it. Oddly, this is actually really good with a sprinkle of white vinegar on it (Yes, it's an odd authentic touch I've learned, but it really completes the Chinese "five tastes" concept).

Notes: Be patient with the beef. You don't necessarily need 3 cups of peanut oil, but you do need to let the beef "dry." If it's sliced matchstick thin, you'll be ok. Trust me--it will look over-cooked, but it's not. Done right, this dish is fantastic, paired with my Szechuan chicken recipe, you're a new pro and your local takeout pu-pu junk looks awful. Enjoy. Up next, how to make good fried rice at home---which oddly requires stale rice.

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