Monday, November 28, 2016

Beef and Broccoli

Beef and Broccoli is one of the classic American Chinese dishes. It was invented in the 1800's, where immigrants from southern China would often adapt recipes from home and make use of local ingredients in North America. I remember eating this dish when my parents would take our family out for dinner at the local Chinese restaurant. The flavours and textures remain ingrained to memory and it was one of the first few dishes I had to make when I learned to cook Chinese food. I also have a memory of watching this dish being made on the show "Yan Can Cook", as a kid.

Having gained quite a bit of cooking experience since then, I've decided to create a spin on the recipe by applying some modern techniques and ideas to the dish. The idea for preparing the broccoli was inspired by the roasted broccoli at local hipster restaurants, and cooking the steak sous vide seemed like a natural fit. Although it diverges from the original version, it is just as delicious and enjoyable.

Note: We will be using the sous vide method to cook the steaks. Therefore, you will require a zip-top freezer bag, an immersion circulator and a container that is high enough to hold water, such as a medium-sized pot.

Beef and Broccoli
by Douglas

1 pound flank steak
Salt and pepper
Water
1/3 cup tahini
1 clove garlic
2 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 head broccoli
Vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon light soy sauce
1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
1 Tablespoon butter
Parmesan cheese
Chili oil

If you have a large piece of flank steak, cut it along the grain so that you have pieces as wide as your palm. Start by seasoning the steak generously with salt and pepper, then place steaks into a zip-top freezer bag. Fill the medium-sized pot 3/4 full of water and dip the bag into the water, going no further than the top of the bag. This will push the air out of the bag and maximize the surface area between the meat and the water (also known as the water displacement method). Put the immersion circulator into the water and set the temperature for 125°F (i.e. cooked to rare, and you can increase to 135°F for medium-rare). Let it run for a minimum 45 minutes, or a maximum of 4 hours.

Meanwhile, add the tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil to a food processor and blend until smooth. Add water if the mixture still looks like a paste, until it has the texture of a smooth dressing. Load the dressing into a plastic squeeze bottle.

Wash broccoli and cut until you have a bunch of florets. Save the stems for another recipe. Place a medium-sized pot filled with water on the stove and set to high heat. Prepare a large bowl of ice and cold water and place next to the pot. Once the water is boiling, add a pinch of salt and a 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Drop the broccoli into the boiling water and let it cook for 60-90 seconds. Using a strainer, take the broccoli out of the boiling water and into the bowl of ice water. Once the broccoli has cooled, take them out of the bowl and on to a plate.

Place an aluminum or carbon steel pan on the stove and set to high heat. When the pan is very hot (carbon steel pans will start smoking), add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add the broccoli and stir briefly. Let it sit for about 30-60 seconds so that the broccoli develops char marks. Remove broccoli from pan and set aside. Wipe pan with a paper towel to remove any broccoli bits.

Once the steaks have cooked for the desired time, take the bags out of the water and shut off the immersion circulator. Remove steaks and pat dry with a paper towel. Place the pan used to cook the broccoli back on the stove on high heat. When the pan is hot, add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and place the steaks on the pan. This will create the crust on the outside of the steak. After 1-2 minutes, flip the steaks once, then remove after searing for another 1-2 minutes. Let the steaks rest on a plate and set aside.

Mix soy sauce, oyster sauce together and 1/8 cup of water in a mixing cup and mix together. Using the same pan that was used to cook the steaks, add butter. Once the butter has melted, add the soy sauce mixture to the pan to deglaze. Scrape any bits from the pan and then reduce to the desired consistency.

To plate the dish, place charred broccoli on to one side of a medium sized dish. Drizzle tahini sauce on top using the plastic squeeze bottle. Grate Parmesan cheese on top of broccoli using a micro-plane. Using as spoon, drizzle chili oil on top of the broccoli. Take the steaks to a cutting board and slice steak into thin slices. Place steak on to the plate and fan them out so that you can see the pink center. With a spoon, drizzle the soy/oyster sauce reduction on to the steak.

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