We live too far away from restaurants to enjoy the convenience of takeout or home delivery. If we’re in the mood for Asian food, it’s a good 20-minute drive and often not something we feel like doing on a moment’s notice — especially after a long day.
A well-stocked pantry is the way we pull off an authentic Asian-inspired meal when the craving hits.
This beef and asparagus stir-fry has ingredients easily found in any area supermarket. However, if you go to one of our area’s amazing international markets, you will probably get many of these items at a better price.
Basic ingredients to keep on hand include soy sauce, toasted (or dark) sesame oil, rice vinegar, oyster sauce and sesame seeds. Keeping other basic ingredients at the ready, such as fish sauce, hoisin sauce, black bean sauce, dry sherry or Shao-xing cooking wine, will also enable you to pull off almost any Asian-style meal like a pro.
To make slicing the beef easier, place the cut in the freezer for about an hour. Then thinly slice against the grain to yield a tender result.
Whenever I purchase fresh ginger, I purchase more than what I need. I peel it, coarsely chop it, then place in a mini food processor with some water to create a purée. I use what I need for the dish I’m making, then freeze the remainder in small portions in either snack-size zip-top bags or plastic containers. Ginger sold in jars or tubes will work in a pinch; however, it often contains ingredients besides the ginger.
When doing any type of stir-fry, all the ingredients should be prepped and ready to cook. I prefer to do all the vegetables first. I take them off the heat at the point of how we like them cooked (which is crisp-tender) then transfer to a bowl. After everything has been cooked to desired doneness, I bring the sauce to a boil for thickening, then add the protein and vegetables back in to be heated through.
This intensely flavored sauce pairs best with beef, but if you don’t want asparagus and scallions, different vegetables can be used. Try broccoli, broccolini or pea pods in place of the asparagus, or add color with carrots and brightly colored bell peppers. Serve over Asian-style noodles or rice.
SESAME BEEF AND ASPARAGUS STIR-FRY
STEAK AND MARINADE
3/4 pound thinly sliced flank, skirt or sirloin steak
2 teaspoons soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced ginger
SAUCE AND STIR-FRY
¾ cup beef broth
½ cup soy sauce, tamari or coconut amimos
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 teaspoons minced ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons corn starch
2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil, or as needed
1 small bunch asparagus, tough ends trimmed, cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces
1 bunch scallions, white and light green part only, cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Combine beef strips, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and ginger in a bowl and toss to coat. Let stand 30 minutes.
Combine broth, soy sauce, rice vinegar, oyster sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes and corn starch in a bowl. Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok, skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the asparagus and cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the scallion pieces and cook 1 minute more. Transfer to a bowl.
Add remaining oil and brown the beef strips on both sides in batches. Transfer to bowl with vegetables.
Pour sauce mixture into the pan and bring to a boil; cook 1 to 2 minutes or until thickened. Add beef and vegetables back to the pan and heat through. Serve immediately over rice or noodles.