Orange crispy beef
A stir fry is usually what I turn to if I want a quick, healthy meal, but sometimes I just want some comfort food and that’s exactly what you’ll find in this orange crispy beef. There are some dishes that never taste as good out of a jar and are always best homemade but, I’ll be honest, if I want a real treat the first place I go to is my local Chinese takeaway. I’m sure the reason that their dishes are so darned tasty is that they’re full of things I really shouldn’t be eating, but they’re just soooo good! Thus, I wanted to try and create something that tasted just as good and just as comforting, but that was still (relatively) healthy. The favourite dish on the menu of my preferred Chinese takeaway is an orange crispy beef (or, as they call it, sweet and sour crispy beef).
I’ve tried making this dish 97 different ways (okay, that might be a slight exaggeration) and at times it’s been like an episode of MasterChef  or Hell’s Kitchen where the contestants have to guess the ingredients of a dish using sight, smell and palate. I’ve honed this until it still has that slightly naughty feel to it, but compared to the one that’s delivered to my door, I’ve definitely reined in the salt and sugar. The one area where I do something similar (I’ve watched them make it) is that I fry the beef in a thin layer of oil. This gives the sauce a wonderfully unctuous stickiness!
- ½ tablespoon of Szechuan peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon of cornflour
- 12½ ounces / 350g frying steak, cut into strips
- groundnut oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely grated
- 2 medium carrots, julienned
- 3 tablespoons of light soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons of rice wine
- 1 tablespoon of runny honey
- juice and zest of half a large orange
- finely sliced spring onion leaves, to garnish
Heat the peppercorns in a dry wok for a couple of minutes (until fragrant), then grind in a pestle and mortar.
Put in a bowl with the cornflour and mix with a fork to combine.
Add the steak and toss until coated.
Fill your wok with about 1cm / 1/3rd inch depth of groundnut oil and heat until it reaches a temperature of 190°C (you can do this in a deep fat fryer if you prefer) and fry your coated steak for about 45 seconds. If using the wok, be extra careful when dropping the beef in as it will bubble and splash initially.
Remove the steak (with a slotted spoon) to a plate lined with kitchen roll to soak up excess oil.
Discard the oil (but don’t clean your wok, so that it still has an oily residue) and on a medium heat, fry your garlic and ginger before adding your carrots, soy, rice wine, honey and orange juice/zest.
Continue to fry for another minute, before returning the steak to the wok.
Fry, stirring regularly, for 3-4 minutes, until the sauce has reduced and everything is nicely coated.
Serve with rice and the spring onion to garnish.