A few months ago, I made some chocolate chip cookies for a community event, and my neighbor from Singapore tasted them and asked if we could do a cooking lesson swap: I teach her how to make cookies, and she teaches me how to make "her curry." Yes yes yes yes yes. Absolutely. Come over any time.
So she did. And goodnessss, her food is so. good.
Since our curry day—which I'll share another time—she has taught me how to cook a few other foods from Singapore. Of course, my lovely neighbor doesn't use measurements. "I just taste the food and see if it tastes right," she says, as I jot down messy notes while she adds a bit of sesame oil here and a little soy sauce there. She's a master. By the time she is finished, my notepad it full of arrows and scribbles and smudged with oil. But my belly is full and I have another of her yummy meals to practice.
This is her Beef Broccoli. It's delicious and quick. One trip to the Asian aisle (if you have a large, well-stocked grocery store) or the Asian Market (in my case) will get you everything you need. I'm not exactly sure if this is classically "Singaporean," but who even sets that bar? The flavors in that region bleed into each other, and that's what makes it so scrumptious: a little Korean-style here, a little Chinese-style there... some things are distinct, but others, like Beef Broccoli, can be fiddled with.
Whichever culture this dish belongs to, it's delicious and a great starter recipe for anyone wanting more Asian food in their life!
Serves 2-4 people
*Keep in mind that these are rough estimates. Add more or less to your tastes.
About 1 lb beef (chuck eye is best, because it is softer), sliced thinly
2-3 Tbsp oyster sauce, divided
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1-2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Sprinkling of sugar
3 tsp cornstarch, divided (1 tsp at first, 2 tsp later)
A few tablespoons cold water
1-2 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped small
4-6 thin slices of ginger (I sliced it off the knob)
1 bunch spring onion (aka green onion), sliced into 1 inch-long slices
2-3 carrots, sliced into 1/4-inch thick pieces and halved
2 small heads of broccoli or 1 large head, cut into florets
Optional: 6-8 black mushrooms, stems removed, sliced into fourths (preferably the dried Japanese black mushrooms. If you buy these in the package at the store, make sure to soak them in water for 30 minutes before you start cooking, then sliced them)
1. If you are using the dried mushrooms, make sure to follow the directions above before you get started.
2. Take 1 tsp of cornstarch and add a little cold water to it. Mix it around and set aside for a second.
3. Take the sliced beef in a bowl, and add 1-2 Tbsp oyster sauce (depending to your taste), sesame oil, pepper, sugar, and the cornstarch mixture from step 1. This is something of a marinade. I'm sure you could leave this for 30 minutes to an hour to deepen the flavor, or you can cook with it right away.
4. Heat up a wok or deep frying pan, and add the oil.
5. Add the garlic and ginger and stir constantly for about 30 seconds to a minute, so it will not burn, keeping the burner on high heat.
6. Add the mushroom (if using), onion, and beef + marinade. Stir it on high heat for a minute or two.
7. Add the carrot, and stir for about 3-4 minutes, keeping an eye on it until it is slightly softened.
8. Add the broccoli. If you like soft broccoli, you may want to boil it or steam it ahead of time. But if you like your broccoli with a little crunch, you add it at the end. Stir for a minute or two.
9. Check your beef to make sure it is done to your liking.
10. Take the remaining cornstarch (about 1-2 teaspoons) and add a little cold water to it, stirring.
11. To the pan, add the last tablespoon of oyster sauce and the cornstarch mixture you just mixed.