This is a typical Sichuan technique for dry-frying beef. Unlike most meat stir-fries, the beef is not marinated; instead it is stir-fried immediately then cooked for a few minutes longer to intensify the beef flavors and to give the meat a slightly chewy texture. Even the carrots and celery are stir-fried until they are "dried." The result is a dish that is a little salty, fiery, and peppery, with a touch of sweetness from the vegetables. I advise using only a wok for this stir-fry. The "dry" technique burns the seasonings into a skillet, making it difficult to wash.
Serves 2 to 3 as a main dish with rice or 4 as part of a multicourse meal.
12 ounces lean flank steak
3 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
2 cups julienned carrots
1 cup julienned celery
3 small dried red chilies, snipped on one end
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 scallions, finely shredded
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Cut the beef with the grain into 2-inch-wide strips. Cut each strip across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices, then stack the beef slices and cut across the grain into 2-inch-long matchsticks.
Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil, add the carrots, celery, and chilies, then, using a metal spatula, stir-fry 1 minute or until the vegetables have absorbed all of the oil. Transfer the vegetables to a plate.
Swirl the remaining 2 tablespoons peanut oil into the wok, carefully add the beef, and spread it evenly in one layer in the wok. Cook undisturbed 1 minute, letting the beef begin to sear. Then stir-fry 1 minute, or until the beef starts to foam and release its juices. Continue stir-frying 2 to 3 minutes or until almost all the liquid has evaporated and the oil begins to sizzle. Reduce the heat to medium and continue stir-frying 3 minutes until the beef is well browned, all the liquid has disappeared, and the wok is almost dry. Swirl the soy sauce into the wok and stir-fry 30 seconds or until well combined. Add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry 10 seconds or until the aromatics are fragrant. Add the carrot mixture and stir-fry 30 seconds or until well combined. Add the sesame oil and scallions and sprinkle on the salt and pepper.
Excerpted from Stir-Frying To The Sky's Edge: The Ultimate Guide To Mastery, With Authentic Recipes And Stories by Grace Young. Copyright 2010 by Grace Young. Excerpted by permission of Simon & Schuster.