Mom’s Chinese Beef & Greens

This is a remake of one of my mother's recipes.  We variously called it "Chinese food" or "Beef & Greens."  Leftovers were sometimes combined with rice to make a sort of casserole.  I add some fancy ingredients that she didn't have, such as sesame oil and sambal oelek, but I'm sure she would have approved.

Serves 4
Total prep and cooking time:  30-45 minutes  - faster if you have a helper slicing things for you.

1 lb. extra lean ground beef
1 large onion, diced
3-5 cloves of garlic, sliced or pressed
10-12 mushrooms, sliced or quartered
1 head of bok choi, washed & sliced or 4 heads of mini bok choi  
1-2 carrots, peeled & sliced into coins
1 thumbs-length of fresh gingerroot, sliced, minced, or grated
teaspoon dried, ground ginger
teaspoon ground white pepper

2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon black bean sauce or Chinese fermented black beans, rinsed and mashed
1 teaspoon sambal oelek or other chile paste - if you want it spicy
1 cup stock – beef, chicken, boullion cube – whatever you’ve got
1 tablespoon of flour
cup of cold water
teaspoon toasted pure sesame oil

In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet or cast-iron pan, over high heat, brown the beef until all liquid has boiled off and the meat is frying gently.  If you are not using extra lean ground beef, you may wish to drain the excess fat at this point.

Add the chopped onions, garlic, gingerroot and carrots, and stir well until the onions are translucent.  Add the mushrooms, white pepper, ground ginger, black beans (or black bean sauce) sambal oelek and soy sauce.  Stir well.  Add a smidge of water if it’s starting to stick on the bottom, and/or lower the heat a little. 

Let the mixture fry a little until the mushrooms start to get tender, and then add the stock or broth.  Stir well, scraping the bottom of the pan so that nothing burns on.  Bring to a gentle boil.  Mix the cold water and flour together with a whisk, or shake together in a plastic lidded container until smooth.  Pour into the meat mixture, stirring constantly, and bring back to a boil.  This will thicken the gravy. If it gets too thick, you may need to add a little more water or stock.  Reduce heat and let simmer.

Taste the gravy to see how the flavours are doing.  If it needs more salt, add a pinch or add a little extra soy sauce.  Likewise, adjust the chile paste, garlic, white pepper and ginger to taste.

Make sure the bok choi is sliced into bite-sized pieces.  Pile the bok choi on top of the meat mixture – don’t stir it in – and cover with a lid.  Cook over medium-low heat until the greens wilt and decrease in volume.  Then, stir carefully into the beef mixture underneath.  Add sesame oil and stir through.

Taste to adjust seasoning, then serve over rice.   Reheats well the next day.



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