It’s a frosty winter morning and I am standing in front of the freezer scanning the contents trying to decide what’s for dinner. The most difficult part of this almost daily ritual is digging around in the freezer to locate the right cut of meat or piece of fish for whatever I have decided on. Sometimes I am lazy and whatever package I grab first is what is on the menu. Someday I hope to be organized, and my life will not be in a constant state of chaos.
I find the buried treasure I’m looking for: moose top sirloin. This tender cut of meat has endless possibilities and I’ve decided it’s time for a stir fry dish.
I look out my kitchen window longingly at the garden covered in a blanket of white and sigh. If it were summer, I would walk out to the garden when I got home from work and cut some greens, maybe harvest some broccoli and pull up a few carrots.
My first thought was to make Mongolian moose, a delicious dish of tender moose smothered in a rich and savory Chinese brown sauce and tossed with green onions, but it’s time for something different. I decide to make a recipe from a treasured cookbook, “China Moon,” by Barbara Tropp. “China Moon” was a popular restaurant in San Francisco years ago. By the time I made it to city by the bay, the restaurant was closed, and Barbara had passed. I poured over her book often and I was so disappointed to have struck out. At least I still have her cookbook. You can still find it on Amazon.
The original recipe is made with beef flank steak. I adapted the recipe for moose top sirloin. The meat should marinate at least 3 hours or preferably overnight in the refrigerator.
Stir-Fried Spicy Moose or Beef with Chard, Mushrooms and Asparagus
Serves 3-4 as a main course
¾-pound trimmed moose top sirloin or flank steak
Basic Beef Marinade:
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. (packed) brown sugar
2 tbsp. soy sauce (or 1 tbsp. each soy and mushroom soy sauce)
2 tbsp. rice wine or sherry
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1⁄4 tsp. black pepper
1-2 tsp. red pepper flakes or 1 fresh Fresno chili, minced (depends on your tolerance for heat)
2 tbsp. thinly sliced green and white scallion rings
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp. minced ginger
1 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp. rice wine or sherry
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sugar
2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
Four Cups Vegetables:
1 1/2 cups roll-cut asparagus, cut into 1-inch nuggets
2 cups red chard, cut in 2- inch squares
1⁄4 lb. wild and/or domestic mushrooms, trimmed & cut if large
1 yellow onion, sliced in half lengthwise, then slice the halves into pieces about ¼ inch thick
1 carrot, cut into julienne
2 tsp. cornstarch, dissolved in water
More green onions, diagonally sliced, green and white parts and enoki mushrooms for garnish
2-3 cups peanut oil, for velveting and stir-frying
1. Cut the meat lengthwise (with the grain) into several long strips about 2 inches wide. Holding your knife on an angle to the board, cut the strips crosswise against the grain into broad ribbons, 1/8 inch thick.
2. Blend the marinade ingredients until smooth in a bowl big enough to hold the meat. Add the meat and toss well. Seal in an airtight container and marinate 3 to 4 hours, or overnight in fridge. Let meat come to room temperature before cooking, then re-toss to separate meat threads.
3. When it’s time to prepare the meat, combine the aromatics in a small bowl and cover until ready to use.
4. Combine the sauce ingredients through the vinegar in a bowl. Stir to blend, leaving the spoon in the bowl.
5. In rapidly boiling water, blanch the asparagus until tender-crisp, 30-40 seconds if pencil thin, 50-60 seconds for thicker stalks. Plunge into ice water to chill and drain well.
6. About 20 minutes before serving, velvet the meat. Heat a wok or deep heavy skillet over high heat until hot enough to evaporate a bead of water on contact. Add oil to a depth of 1 inch. Rest a deep-fry thermometer on the rim. Reduce the heat to medium and bring the oil to 350 degrees, hot enough to bubble a meat ribbon. Gently slide the meat into the oil and swish with chopsticks to separate the shreds. Cook until the meat is 90 percent gray on the outside, about 15 seconds. Immediately scoop the mat from the oil with a large Chinese mesh spoon; rest the spoon on a bowl to drain. The meat will be only half cooked.
7. Carefully drain all but 2 tablespoons oil from the pan.
8. Return the pan to high heat. When the oil is hot enough to sizzle a scallion ring, reduce heat to moderate and add the aromatics. Stir gently until fully fragrant, 20-30 seconds adjusting the heat, so they foam with browning. Add the onions and toss briskly until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add the carrot and toss for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and toss until very hot, about 2 minutes more. Adjust the heat to maintain a merry sizzle and drizzle a bit more oil down the side of the pan, if needed to prevent sticking. Don’t worry if the vegetables brown — they will be tasty. Add the chard and toss gently until wilted, about 15-20 seconds.
9. Stir the sauce and add it to the pan. Raise the heat and cover the pan. Stir until the liquid turns glossy and slightly thick, 10 to 20 seconds. Add the blanched asparagus and the meat. Stir gently to combine, and cook through, about 10 seconds.
Serve immediately on heated plates of contrasting color. Garnish with scallion rings and enoki mushrooms.
Serve with noodles or cooked rice if desired.
Reach Teri Robl at email@example.com.