Pepper Steak

Qingjiao Chao Niurousi

Preparation info

    Appears in

    Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook

    By Ellen Schrecker

    Published 1976

    • About

    Pepper Steak, that old warhorse of the chow mein palace, occupies an honorable place in the cuisine of Szechwan as well. If Mrs. Chiang’s version seems more Spartan than Szechwanese in its simplicity, this is as it should be. An authentic Pepper Steak is a very plain, down-to-earth dish that relies on only the most minimal seasonings to bring out the natural flavors of the beef and green peppers. It is not hot.

    This is the perfect recipe for a novice. A friend who had never cooked Chinese food before claimed that it took her all of 20 minutes to prepare. The ingredients are uncomplicated and readily available. And once you have mastered the basic recipe, any number of variations come to mind. Try pork and broccoli.

    Method

    Preparation

    1 pound round steak or any similarly lean cut of beef Cut away all the fat from the steak and slice the lean meat into slivers about 2 inches long and ⅛ inch wide, the size and shape of a wooden matchstick. (It is always easier to cut meat into fine shreds if you first put it in the freezer for about 10 minutes, until it becomes slightly stiff but not frozen.)
    1-½-inch piece fresh ginger Peel the ginger, then cut it into very thin slivers, about 1 inch long.
    4 scallions Clean the scallions, then cut them, both the white part and most of the green, into 1⅛-inch lengths. Slice these into slivers as well.

    (beef)

    2 tablespoons soy sauce

    1 tablespoon sesame oil

    1 tablespoon cornstarch

    Add the shredded ginger and scallions to the beef, along with the soy sauce, sesame oil, and cornstarch. Mix well and set aside to marinate.
    3 medium green peppers Wash the green peppers, then cut them in half and remove the seeds. Cut the peppers into shreds about ⅛ inch wide.

    Cooking

    1 tablespoon peanut oil Heat the pan over a high flame for 10 seconds, then add the oil. It will be hot enough to cook with when the first tiny bubbles form and a few small wisps of smoke appear.
    (green peppers) When the oil is ready, toss in the green pepper shreds. Stir-fry them vigorously for about 2 minutes, using your cooking shovel or spoon to scoop the peppers off the sides of the pan and then stir them around in the middle. Remove them from the pan.
    ½ cup peanut oil Rinse the pan well and dry it out with paper towels. Reheat the pan over a high flame and pour in the fresh oil; it should be hot enough for cooking after about 2 minutes.
    1 tablespoon water (meat mixture) Combine the water and the meat mixture and mix thoroughly. When the oil is ready, put the meat mixture in the pan and stir-fry for 45 seconds.
    (green peppers) Return the peppers to the pan and continue to stir-fry for another 30 seconds.
    1 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce Add soy sauce to taste. Stir-fry the meat and peppers for 1 more minute, then serve.