Long ago, I concluded that the best recipes are almost always simple recipes. If it takes more than a single page to provide cooking instructions, then I usually take a pass. When it comes to Chinese recipes, simplicity is essential. I like to stick to recipes of no more than 3 primary ingredients. In the case of this orange beef recipe, they are the beef, the green onions, and the orange peel. In that way, the ingredients remain distinctive. Except for the time required for marinating the beef, the actual cooking time is very, very brief.
1 ½ pounds skirt steak, sliced into
¼ inch-thick strips
2/3 cup plus 3 Tablespoons water
½ teaspoon baking soda
3 Tablespoons dry Sherry
1 egg white
3 ½ Tablespoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 green onions, cut into ½ inch lengths (about 1/3 cup)
3 Tablespoons dried orange peel*
3 thin slices fresh ginger, chopped
1 long, thin fresh hot red pepper (optional), chopped
¼ cup chicken broth
3 Tablespoons light soy sauce
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
4 cups oil
10 small dried hot red peppers, or to taste
Place beef in bowl.
Combine 2/3 cup water with baking soda and pour over beef.
Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
Rinse beef thoroughly under cold running water. Drain well and pat dry.
Transfer to dry bowl.
Add 1 Tablespoon wine and egg white and stir briskly, using circular motion, until egg white is foamy.
Add 1½ Tablespoons cornstarch and 2 Tablespoons oil.
Combine green onions, dried orange peel, ginger and fresh red pepper in small bowl. Combine remaining 2 Tablespoons cornstarch and remaining 3 Tablespoons water in small bowl.
Add remaining 2 Tablespoons wine.
Blend in chicken broth, light soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil.
Heat remaining 4 cups oil in wok or heavy large skillet over high heat until almost smoking.
Add beef and cook about 45 seconds, stirring constantly.
Remove beef with slotted spoon and drain (do not turn off heat).
Return meat to wok and cook 15 seconds, stirring. Drain again.
Return meat to wok and cook 15 seconds, stirring. Drain well. (Repeated cooking will make meat crisp outside and juicy inside.)
Drain all but 2 tablespoons oil from wok.
Restore wok to high heat and add hot peppers, stirring until almost black, about 30 seconds.
Remove peppers with slotted spoon and discard.
Add green onion mixture to wok and stir briefly.
Add beef and cook, stirring constantly about 10 seconds.
Add wine mixture and stir until meat is well coated and piping hot, about 15 seconds. Turn into dish and serve immediately.
*For dried orange peel, remove peel of 1 orange, scraping all white pith form inside. Cut peel into 1-inch squares. Arrange on baking sheet. Let stand in warm place until peel is thoroughly dried, about 24 hours. Store in tightly covered container.