Orange Flavor Beef

The first flavor you get from this dish is not orange but pepper–this is a spicy, Szechuan-style creation. And it doesn’t use orange juice for its flavor, but the peel, which contains oils with a different taste from that found in the juice. The dish has a long history: orange peel is sold in China by pharmacists, and besides its delicious tastes it is believed to have medicinal value.

Stir frying beef with sweet peppers and green beans. Top view

The first step is best done in a wok over very high heat, with a good exhaust system and a fire extinguisher nearby. For safety–an oil fire is possible at the temperatures this dish needs–I recommend doing it in a pan over a charcoal grill, which is the only way you can duplicate the kind of heat worked up in Chinese kitchens.

  • 10-12 oz. flank or round steak
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 whole dried red peppers, or 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • Peel of a small orange, dried overnight or in warm oven
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch blended with 1 tsp. water
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup beef or chicken stock or water
  • 1 Tbs. chopped green onions

1. Slice the steak into thin, bite-size strips. Beat the egg and toss the steak in it to coat lightly. Dust with cornstarch.

2. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or heavy skillet over high heat until it just starts to smoke around the edges. Fry the beef for about two minutes, until browned. Remove beef from the oil with a slotted spoon. Turn the heat up all the way until the oil it gets really hot. Return the beef for about 30 seconds. Remove and keep warm.

3. Lower the heat to medium and pour out most of the oil from the wok into a metal container. Do not wipe the skillet; you want a significant oil film in the bottom. Add the red peppers, orange peel, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sugar, dissolved cornstarch, sesame oil, and stock. Cook, stirring every few seconds, until a sauce consistency is reached. Add the green onions and cook for another ten seconds or so.

4. Return the beef to the wok and continue to cook until the beef is fully cooked and coated with the sauce. Spoon onto a serving plate and serve with steamed rice on the side.

Serves two to four, depending on how much other food is on the table.

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