So tell me, do you like to mess with tradition?
(let’s keep this particular conversation centered on the kitchen shall we).
I ask because I shared a cranberry sauce from the kitchn on Facebook yesterday and the post bombed. I wasn’t concerned about the bomb; I was however fascinated by the possibilities underlying it and what I might infer from it (great stats problem to bring out your inner geek).
Since the likelihood of all of my readers needing to scratch their backs at precisely the same time that my post entered their news feed is about as probable as the entire population deciding they no longer eat cranberry sauce during the holidays, I was left with two more likely explanatory variables: the use of unconventional ingredients in this particular recipe was a nonstarter (star anise, ginger, fig) and maybe, just maybe, people don’t like to mess with tradition… especially when it comes to their holiday classics.
So tell me, as my random sample audience, do you stick to the same tried-and-true recipes year after year for the holidays or do you crack open the cookbooks (kindles) looking for new ideas and inspiration. Are there certain dishes that are simply sacrosanct (there’s no hope of deviating from them even if you wanted to) while others negotiable?
For my part, I can’t remember the last time I made a turkey for Christmas (or Thanksgiving) but there are other aspects of our holiday celebration that are more traditional — like our oatmeal buttermilk breakfast scones — a definite must!
As for today’s recipe, you’re looking at the most popular and frequently requested dinner in our home right now!
Thin slices of tender beef with broccoli sautéed in a mouth-watering sesame-soy ginger sauce. Not only is it delicious and nourishing, it’s also cooked in one pot and you can have it on the table — start to finish — in less than 30 minutes. Faster than takeout.
I have two strong recommendations for making this dish optimal:
The first is to buy a tender cut of beef — do not be tempted to buy those “pre-cut” strips of stir-fry beef in packages. You will be very disappointed. Instead, I highly recommend flat iron (top blade steak) for this recipe which will literally melt in your mouth. And it’s not that expensive. I pay about $14 for 1.5 pounds and the broccoli/rice/onion are peanuts. So you’re looking at a cost of about $4 per person taking into account all the major ingredients.
Secondly, do not be shy to ask your butcher to slice the meat for you — I even ask my butcher to slice squash and pumpkin for me (those things are treacherous!)– they have the machinery that allows them to slice the meat very thin which is precisely what you want for this recipe. The thinner the better. I request a width-wise cut and that way I don’t have to cut the meat again at home unless I want to.
- FOR THE BEEF BROCCOLI
- 1.5 to 2 pounds tender beef cut into very thin strips (I recommend flat iron/top blade steak)
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 1 head of broccoli, cut into small florets
- 1 Tbsp or so sesame seeds for topping
- FOR THE SESAME-GINGER SAUCE
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce (use tamari for a gluten-free version)
- 1 Tbsp tamarind sauce (optional, I tend to have it on hand and love the flavor)
- 1 Tbsp water
- 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tsp coconut palm or brown sugar
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 heaping tsp (or to taste) chili-garlic sauce
- 1 large nub of ginger, peeled and grated
- FOR THE CORNSTARCH SLURRY
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved into 1 Tbsp water
- Whisk sauce ingredients together in a small bowl or container with fitted lid and set aside.
- In a large skillet set to low-medium heat, sautée onion in some olive oil.
- Just before the onion becomes translucent, add the broccoli florets to the skillet and toss with the onion. You don't want to overcook the broccoli but merely saturate the color and soften it slightly.
- Remove the onion and broccoli from the pan and set aside for a moment.
- In the same pan, increase heat to medium-high, add a bit more oil and sauté meat quickly on one side and then flip to the other side. This should only take about 1 minute. The thin meat will cook very quickly and you don't want to overcook it.
- Once the meat has been flipped, return the onion and broccoli to the skillet and add the sauce (giving it a final whisk beforehand).
- Add the cornstarch slurry to the skillet and allow the mixture to just come to a boil, mixing the whole time.
- Remove skillet from heat and divide mixture among four plates. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and enjoy with rice or as desired.
2. Although pretty in its Japanese aesthetic, I don't normally serve this meal in divided portions. In reality, the broccoli is mixed in with the meat and the sauce. I just wanted to do something different for the presentation.
3. I have found with cornstarch over the years that it really doesn't work well to mix it directly into a sauce. It's worth the extra minute dissolving it in water first before integrating it.
4. Although I have not tried it in this particular recipe, I often use tapioca flour as a thickening agent. So if you prefer to skip the cornstarch, this is another good option.