Fresh Basil Beef
Lawrence Chu - Chef Chu’s, Los Altos, CA
Makes 6 to 8 Servings
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This dish can be served in a clay pot or heatproof casserole. Fresh basil, garlic and chilies will permeate the air and suffuse the beef with flavor.
Trim the fat and gristle from the steak. Slice the flank steak lengthwise into 1-inch-wide strips. Slice the strips crosswise into 1-by-1½-inch chunks. Pound the pieces with the back of a cleaver to flatten and tenderize. Mix cold water with the meat tenderizer in a large bowl. Add the steak, mix well, and set aside in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Drain well.
After draining, return the steak to the bowl. Combine the steak with the marinade ingredients, adding them in the order listed and mixing well after each addition. Set aside for 20 minutes.
Combine the seasoning sauce ingredients in another bowl. (If using a clay pot, preheat it on low to medium heat over a direct flame or electric burner to prepare it for serving. Keep warm.)
First, pan-sear the meat. Heat the ½ cup of oil in a large wok until smoking. Lay half of the steak pieces flat in a single layer in the oil. Pan-sear for 30 seconds without turning, until seared golden brown. Turn once and brown the other side for 30 seconds. Remove the pieces to a plate. Reheat the oil over high heat. Repeat the pan-searing with the remaining beef. Remove all oil from the wok.
Next, stir-fry and braise. Reheat the wok over very high heat. Add the sesame oil. Add the garlic and stir-fry until golden brown and fragrant. Add the remaining spices and stir-fry a few seconds. Return the steak to the wok and toss with the spices for 30 seconds. Add one-third of the seasoning sauce at a time, tossing the steak vigorously for 30 seconds after each addition to reduce the sauce. Add half the basil leaves and toss vigorously over high heat until the sauce reduces by half. The steak should be slightly pink in the middle, and there should be a little sauce on the bottom of the wok, enough to glaze the beef.
To serve in a clay pot, immediately transfer the steak mixture to the preheated clay pot. Top with the remaining basil leaves and sprinkle with rice wine. Cover the pot, then place it on a heatproof platter protected with a folded, clean, dry towel. Bring to the table, and lift and remove the lid in front of your guests. (Can be served in a heatproof covered casserole preheated in a 300-degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes.)
Alternatively, to serve on a platter, transfer the beef to a warm platter and top with fresh basil leaves. Cover the platter with foil or a lid, and bring to the table. Lift the lid or foil in front of your guests.
The basil should be slightly wilted and fragrant using either serving method.
To make the dish hot and spicy, leave the seeds in the red jalapeños.