Just-right ingredients spark ideas for Asian cuisine at home

  • A mix of ingredients in a hot wok finishes the dish.

    A mix of ingredients in a hot wok finishes the dish. Courtesy of Don Mauer

 
 
Posted6/10/2020 6:00 AM

For me, preparing Asian cuisine is a 40-year kitchen love affair. It all started at a culinary conference where I was fortunate to meet and speak with Martin Yan, of "Yan Can Cook" fame. Watching him show how easy it could be to prepare Asian foods got me started cooking Asian meals.

A flat iron steak fresh from the butcher's.
A flat iron steak fresh from the butcher's. - Courtesy of Don Mauer

My whole-animal butcher had grass-fed, grass-finished flat iron steaks available, and I bought one, not quite knowing what I would do with it. My butcher told me that a flat iron is also known as a top blade steak and looks somewhat like a flank steak. My butcher also shared, if I didn't want it to be tough, to slice a flat iron steak across the grain.

My food market had some beautiful organic baby bok choy and, thanks to Martin Yan, I started to formulate a dinner idea after spying some good-looking fresh shitake mushrooms.

Chop and ready all your ingredients before starting a stir-fry.
Chop and ready all your ingredients before starting a stir-fry. - Courtesy of Don Mauer

Heading home with Asian ideas swimming around in my head led me to search for beef and bok choy recipes in my Asian cookbooks. Unfortunately, they were of little help, so out to the internet, I went. The unique recipe I found marinated the beef with soy sauce and a blend of oils, olive, peanut, and toasted sesame along with sliced garlic.

I brought out my 30+-year-old flat-bottom, all-steel wok that works well on an electric stove. If you raised an eyebrow that electric stovetops can't bring on the same heat as gas, you're right. My stovetop seems to bring just enough heat.

My marinade matched the internet recipe, except I doubled the toasted sesame oil from a teaspoon to teaspoon. And, I added teaspoon ground ginger.

I sliced the flat iron steak lengthwise into three pieces and then sliced it crosswise and tossed those thin slices into the marinade, stirring to coat and set it aside for at least 20 minutes. If I had the time, I would have let it marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

Fresh shiitake mushrooms should be chopped before cooking.
Fresh shiitake mushrooms should be chopped before cooking. - Courtesy of Don Mauer

I sliced the onion and placed it in its own bowl, and then trimmed the root end off the bok choy and rinsed them under cold water. First, I trimmed off the leaf parts and cut them into half-inch pieces and set them aside. Then I cut the stem ends into half-inch pieces and set them aside.

Since shitake stems are too tough to eat, I twisted them off the caps and sent them to my compost. Next, I cut the smaller caps into quarters and the larger caps into sixths.

Chop and ready all your ingredients before starting a stir-fry.
Chop and ready all your ingredients before starting a stir-fry. - Courtesy of Don Mauer

Finally, I was ready to fire-up my wok. First, I worked with the onions and removed them when they were soft. After adding some oil, I added the bok choy stems, stir-fried them for 2 minutes, and added the mushrooms. Stir-frying them all together worked well, and just about when they were done, I added the bok choy leaves and watched them quickly wilt like spinach can.

I removed the bok choy mixture and added the marinated meat without adding any oil since there was some in the marinade. As soon as the meat lost its pink color, I returned everything to my wok, stirring it. I couldn't wait to try my new concoction.

It was, without modesty, amazingly good; the perfect blend of flavors and the steak turned out tender. This will also work with flank steak, or skirt steak, too. You've got to give this a try.

• Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write to him at don@theleanwizard.com.

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