As I mentioned in my last post, I am taking part in the Penny-Wise Eat Local Challenge this week. As soon as I started this challenge, I knew right away that I wouldn't be able to base my diet on 100% locally sourced food. And I guess that's where my "beef"' is with eating locally: it's definitely a good idea, it's just not completely practical, at least not for me. As someone who is trying to learn more about cooking Filipino food, my cooking style doesn't exactly lend itself to all local all the time.
Take for instance, a beef and broccoli dish I recently made (Yes, I know. Not exactly Filipino, but still). Most of the components were grown within a 100-mile radius from where I live: The broccoli, shiitake mushrooms, ginger, onions, the rice, and even the oyster sauce I used was made locally. Again, you can see where my local ingredients were grown here.
However, many ingredients vital to this dish were non-local: the beef (although grass-fed and organic) came from the midwest, the soy sauce was brewed in Wisconsin of all places, the cornstarch is from Indiana, and the sesame oil I used is from Japan.
Geez, after reading that last sentence it looks like I didn't even try at this challenge. But that's the thing, I did. Although I've made beef and broccoli many times before, I've always planned ahead for it and shopped for ingredients knowing that I was going to make it. In this instance, I actually cooked based on what I bought at the farmer's market; it was all spontaneous. And I think that's a good thing.
Beef and Broccoli is a dish I've learned to make on my own over the years, and I've never measured or paid much attention to the technique, until now. It's important to first brown the beef over high heat, and if you're pan isn't big enough for all the beef, brown it in batches, take your time. After all the beef has been browned, I deglaze my pan with a bit of chicken stock and extract all of the meaty goodness that's been stuck on the bottom. Mmmm, beefy fond. After that, it's all gravy baby. No, really, it's all gravy.
West Coast Beef (and Broccoli)
1 pound Top Round beef, cut into 1/2-inch by 2-inch strips
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. canola oil
2 large broccoli crowns, cut into florets (stems removed)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1Tbsp. canola oil
1 large onion, sliced
1/4 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 cup chicken stock
3 Tbsp. oyster sauce
3 tsp. cornstarch
Combine the sugar, soy sauce, and sesame oil and pour over beef. Marinate for 30 minutes up to an hour. After meat is done marinating, drain and discard marinade.
Heat the canola oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until oil begins to shimmer. Add beef to hot pan and cook in batches until nicely browned, about 2-3 minutes per batch. Transfer beef to a medium bowl and set aside.
Add broccoli to saute pan and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes. Add chicken stock to the broccoli and deglaze the pan, making sure to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Decrease heat to medium and cover saute pan, steam broccoli for 2 minutes. After broccoli has steamed for 2 minutes, transfer to same bowl as beef, along with any remaining chicken stock, and set aside.
Add last tablespoon of canola oil to the saute pan and heat over medium-high heat. After oil begins to shimmer, add the onions and stif-fry for 5 minutes or until onions have softened and are lightly browned. Add the shiitake mushrooms and ginger, stir-fry for 1 minute. Return the beef, broccoli, and any accumulated juices to the pan and cook for 2 more minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the last 1/2 cup of chicken stock, oyster sauce, and cornstarch in a small bowl and whisk together. Pour into pan and cook until sauce thickens into a gravy, about 5 minutes, checking broccoli for doneness. Broccoli should be al dente at this point, but continue cooking until done to your liking. Serve with white rice.